on eating onions raw / to make us happy

Design by Shannon Boland

Image description: periwinkle grid background with line drawings of sliced onions, orange juice carton, and paper boats.

on eating onions raw

creeping downstairs halfway to dawn
crumbs litter the cold kitchen floor
and i’m in the hallway.
i’m watching myself,
crouching over the counter
     performing
                               the everlasting ritual,
the gas hovering above the stove.
the glow of the refrigerator, a spotlight or a full-length mirror
reflecting skin like my mother’s,
       our tummy-suck.
i’m crushing wet cells of watermelons in my hands, 
rubbing velvet peach skin between my fingers
and my sister snores upstairs 
while the crack
of chicken bones and crisp pastries 
escape from behind
                          my lips.
do i ascend the stairs with mouth 
half full or 
half empty?
too much 
and not enough,
and the thin line between the
                                  outside of me and 
the inside of me
and squeezing, scooping, tweezing it out to show to my friends, 
to prove myself,
i am bereft.
washing it down,
i chance with orange juice
forbidden wine
or tea, 
a kiss, 
the wetness of it,
             sodden and sweet.


to make us happy

I’ll eat polished stones out of your hands
If you close your eyes, 
           and pretend I’m not here.
Baby, is this happiness or is this settling?
Is this peace or mute discontent, 
My head on your thigh and your fingers in my hair, 
                     the sum total of what you’re willing to do to me.
Light from the projector glows silver and empty
                                         and my car is in desperate dewy hands 
           on your portal of a driveway but I’m
Too distracted by the pillow 
                                         that you push onto my knees to keep us from touching
           to stick the key into the ignition and light away from this place.
Is that a smile or a grimace, 
                      the little twist in your lips when you look at me?
We’re sitting in a sand pit, a passion deficit.
           Look to your left, there’s an archway we can’t pass through
                                                                       and on your right, another one.
           I’m wearing your clothes but we change in separate rooms and all I want to ask is
Am I missing something? Or is it you? 
The shrine on your dresser
           the letters, cards, folded paper boats, wooden mannequins, 
                     secret scrolls, candles, string, 
                               confessions probably mean nothing.
I’m in Germany on a highway where anything goes, and you’re standing in the middle of it, 
           waiting for me to run you over.
As if the original sin is holding my foot down on the pedal.
Don’t tell me you think the sky cares.
                     Trust me, you and I are the only ones watching.
Right now we’re in rocking chairs 
Under the eaves of a winter that’s long outstayed its welcome and I’m 
Aching to tell you the truth,
The truth being that we don’t deserve anything. 
                     You love cucumbers and soy sauce, banana fish
                                                                       and ice skating
           but you hate jazz
And instead of two parts of a whole
                     we’re two serrated edges, jagged ceilings.
                                         Popcorn and asbestos.
We’re not evil people. But we don’t know how to be happy either.


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