Field notes from Elizabeth Eslami
In this new series we look at notes taken unedited from authors’ journals, then learn how they’re worked into stories, novels and other writing. Today we read field notes from short story writer and novelist Elizabeth Eslami.
Field Notes:Sixty miles outside of Albuquerque, I’m standing on the dry table of Acoma Pueblo, having joined a tour with other white people, our skin blistering into a plastic doll color. We move like clouds, slow, unaffected, led through real people’s museum lives. I think there’s a story here, turning itself over in the dust, maybe a knot of stories — Acoma stories, whites with Acoma stories.
In my notes, I’ve written:
I never expected it to cut into me. The meshing and clashing of cultures, the Spanish forcing religion upon them. The church with its graves upon graves, built and buried in layers, a rising wall of false heads… All coated in sand, baked like their ovens.
It will become this story:
This is everybody, most of them white. There are a lot of them, small and tall, fat and pale, but if you are looking down at them from the pueblo, they just look like golf tees lined up, brittle and wooden. Kind of like this: I I I I II I I III I I –From “Everything Gets Mixed Together at the Pueblo,” Crab Orchard Review Vol. 14, #2, Color Wheel: Cultural Heritages in the 21st Century, October 2009