Thursday, July 27, 2006

Poetry Thursday-The Traveling Onion

I first became acquainted with Naomi Shihab Nye's work some years ago when she was featured on Bill Moyers' PBS special on poetry. l love the way her poems honor the minute, homely details of life, celebrating the "small forgotten miracles" that make up daily living in the world. Born in 1952 of Palestinian-American heritage, she has lived in the Middle East as well as in the US, and she brings a unique and timely perspective to the experiences of a world citizen.
The Traveling Onion
Naomi Shihab Nye
"It is believed that the onion originally came from India. In Egypt it was an object of worship - why I haven't been able to find out. From Egypt the onion entered Greece and on to Italy, thence into all of Europe." Better Living Cookbook
When I think how far the onion has traveled
just to enter my stew today, I could kneel and praise
all small forgotten miracles,
crackly paper peeling on the drainboard,
pearly layers in smooth agreement,
the way knife enters onion
and onion falls apart on the chopping block,
a history revealed.
And I would never scold the onion
for causing tears.
It is right that tears fall
for something small and forgotten.
How at meal, we sit to eat,
commenting on texture of meat or herbal aroma
but never on the translucence of onion,
now limp, now divided,
or its traditionally honorable career:
For the sake of others,
For more poems that are good enough to eat, go here


Blogger Star said...

Nice selection for this week, Becca. I think of onion as a universal vegetable, one that is used in almost every culture--Italian, Mexican, French, Middle Eastern, Asian, etc. At our house, we always err on the side of more rather than less.

And on a lighter note, when I first saw that you were posting on the onion, my mind immediately went to Shrek and Donkey and their discussion on ogres being like onions. Gave me a good laugh (one that I needed--thanks!)

Blogger jzr said...

This is a wonderful poem ... and onions are one of the holiest of foods, I believe!!

Blogger Jennifer said...

mmmm, I adore the onion!

Blogger ecm said...

I love Naomi Shihab Nye's work. I love how she starts in the ordinary and then makes these amazing connections. I really like onions too :) Great picture.

Blogger deirdre said...

This makes me want to plant more onions in my garden.

Blogger paris parfait said...

This is a great poem and photo. Thanks for sharing both! Sadly, onions don't agree w/ me, although I appreciate their invaluable contribution to food.

Blogger Visual-Voice said...

Ah, wonderful! Onions are the best... with all their transparent layering!

Blogger Tammy said...

What a treasure you have found here. I LOVE her and onions :)


Blogger Madeleine said...

the only way i would cry over onions is if i becam allergic to them. i eat raw red onion just as a snack.just slice some off. is that weird?

lovely poem...the poor forgotten onion. how true. i will give it my full praise next mealtime!



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