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