Morning with Onion

by Alida Woods

On the counter the onion
waits—its fawny shell
unfurling, patient as a stone.

My husband lifts the knife
Razor sharp, he insists,
flicks his thumb over the blade.

He cuts the onion in half
pole to pole
lops off the dry, twisted top

and slices the bottom,
careful to leave the stem

He peels away crisp umber skin,
reminds me, Onions are cheap,
and tosses a few layers in the compost.

Belly down on the cutting board
longitudinal cuts, four of them,
intersect a series of vertical cuts

before the onion tumbles
in perfect cubes—
Pearls before swine, I muse.

My vision obscured
Propanethial oxide, he explains
and I am grateful for this scientist chef.

The nacreous gems
craved by Jews in exile
lavished Olympians with their juices

and gave Ramses IV vision
in the afterlife
7000 years of cultivation.

Fans of hollow green shoots
stab though dark loamy fields
in India, China, and Goshen, New York.

Bulbs sweat and swell
work the mystery
of layer upon layer

pulled and packed
netted droppings in the bottom
of my grocery sac

and finally this morning
on the counter he offers up
the omelet.

Alida Woods, a native of New England, lives in Asheville, North Carolina. She has spent her life among school children as a teacher, principal, and mentor. Her poems have appeared in The Avocet, The Great Smokies Review, Front Porch, The Westward Quarterly, and The Amsterdam Quarterly. Her chapbook, Disturbing Borders, was published in January 2018.