Monday, November 26, 2007

What I Was Thinking at 6:00 on Thanksgiving Day, Making Stuffing

Sweet, Vidalia and Pearl

Cutting in to you, I know
I've tried too much to be like you:
transparent layers ever surrounding
a center with nothing
but a small knot. I never knew
when to stop peeling, when your paper
skin yields to yellow flesh, when
you become edible. Instead, I peel
away too much of you, waste
what could be saved
and dice the rest
into irregularly shaped squares.
My hands smell like fear
and exertion, a stink I will carry with me.
An all day reminder
of our defense mechanisms.


Paul said...

Nice poem. I love Vidalia onions too !!

paisley said...

an onions smell is its defense mechanism... interesting thought,,, ill have to ponder that ....

Crafty Green Poet said...

I enjoyed this poem, not least because it reminds me of my own attitude to onions

gautami tripathy said...

I love onions. One great onion poem.

Dave said...

"I never knew
when to stop peeling, when your paper
skin yields to yellow flesh, when
you become edible."
Good lines! I liked the smell of fear and exertion, too. Very well observed.

...deb said...

I love this. You've taken the (old) idea so much further and deftly, too.

The Pacific Northwest version of the sweet Vidalia is Walla Walla. I don't want to insert another onion in your terrific title (you could have added Bermuda or Spanish, no? The sound you have is terrific.) But try them if you ever have a chance.

Left-handed Trees... said...

I loved this poem...and I loved that you were thinking poetry while in the kitchen--that is a gift.

Jo said...

I really enjoyed this, Jessica, though I had never heard of this particular onion.

Christine said...

This is terrific. I resonated with the transparent layers and the knot in the center. Those lines describe me to a T.

The analogy of the peeling away too much is also very apt.

An overall great poem!

As a Georgian, I know all about vidalias. They're the best. But an onion is an onion.

poet with a day job said...

Great poem. reminds me of this Katha Pollit poem...


(from the series “Vegetable Poems” in Antarctic Traveller, poems by Katha Pollitt, Knopf, 1982)

The smoothness of onions infuriates him
so like the skin of women or their expensive clothes
and the striptease of onions, which is also a disappearing act.
He says he is searching for the ultimate nakedness
but when he finds that thin green seed
that negligible sprout of a heart
we could have told him he’d only be disappointed.
Meanwhile the onion has been hacked to bits
and he’s weeping in the kitchen most unromantic tears.

polka dot witch said...

there are a million ways people talk about onions as a metaphor ... BUT HERE you have re-written the onion and so beautifully shown how we sit inside our defenses and the traces it leaves on our skin. this is terrifice!

jillypoet said...

I liked your use of "fumbling" with the onion as a metaphor. And the stink just naturally followed. Wonderful. i think I liked this so much because it seems universal. I know about cutting too much away, and hacking into unattractive chunks. You made me think of my foibles in the kitchen in a whole new way!

Anonymous said...

To me the core of this poem is that knot at the beginning, and the lines "My hands smell like fear / and exertion."

The way you blend the body of the onion and the narrator's body is really finely executed in this piece. We learn so much about the narrator, and about how it feels to be human, in this scene.

Thank you for sharing this for Read Write Poem.