The Traveling Onion
“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 the 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, disappear.
Naomi Shihab Nye, “The Traveling Onion” from Words Under the Words: Selected Poems. Copyright © 1995 by Naomi Shihab Nye. Reprinted with the permission of the author.
Naomi Shihab Nye
Naomi Shihab Nye gives voice to her experience as an Arab-American through poems about heritage and peace that overflow with a humanitarian spirit.
Date Published: 1995-01-01
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/traveling-onion