April 29, 2012

Maggie Clark

ON REALIZING THERE ARE TOO MANY POEMS ABOUT ONIONS, PEARS, AND BRUEGHEL’S PAINTINGS

While cutting an onion I am reminded of Brueghel,
the lack of tears in his art. Mine are everywhere, yet his
paradise of dancers runs dry—too busy with the frenzy
of living—and even in The Triumph, the littered dying

do not weep—busy, in their own way, with the frenzy
of becoming dead. But I am still alone in the kitchen,
no orgiastic throng to advance my sullen mood as art;
there is time enough for me to cry. Who will stop me?

The pears ripening on the sill—bitter, mealy, and hard—
are making more of themselves, growing crisp and fresh
in the wan, white light of the world. Neutral, indifferent,
they cannot tell me what to do. So I think about layers

because they are there, because they are easy. Onions
cannot help being metaphors; they would rather stay
mysteries in the moist soil. They would rather I unwrap
myself. If I could, I tell them through the blur, I would.

from Rattle #28, Winter 2007