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Onion

June 14, 2010

by Martin Willitts Jr.

The onion is pregnant with disappointment,
carrying her squat body to the market,
shedding skin like brown veils,

She has miscarried—
weaving a long strand of pearl-shaped tears
for the loss she still carries
like a phantom memory,
the shape of the embryo, hallow as a conch shell—

She passes a church without mumbling prayers
believing prayers are not heard after all,

Her brown sadness is a skirt touching the ground,

Her husband abandoned her when she needed him most,
absent as prayers, a need that has to get out,
empty as a bottomless well.

If there is anything that removes her pain,
she cannot find it
in the dusty streets
the color of her wrinkles.


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Martin Willitts Jr. has had poems recently in Blue Fifth, Parting Gifts, Storm at Galesburg and other stories (anthology), The Centrifugal Eye, Quiddity, and others. He has been nominated for four Pushcart Awards. His second full length book of poetry is The Hummingbird (March Street Press, 2009). His eleventh chapbook is Baskets of Tomorrow (Flutter Press, 2009), and he has two forthcoming chapbooks, True Simplicity (Poets Wear Prada Press, 2010) and The Girl Who Sang Forth Horses (Pudding House Publications, 2010).

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  1. June 15, 2010 at 9:11 am

    Love this sad onion.

  2. JJS
    June 24, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    Yes, love this sad onion, and what the poem does on several levels at once. Ann & I wondered briefly about theme – ‘is an onion a classic?’ – but what you did with it here, raising all the metaphoric layers (sorry), made it one. Skillful and lovely. Thank you.

  3. mary
    July 22, 2010 at 9:02 am

    Just revisited this one and really enjoyed it. Yes, metaphoric layers is exactly what I experience. I can see all the sad, brown characters on the dusty streets. I’ll never peel an onion without thinking of this poem.

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