know your onions

allium flower

I said yesterday that when I lack inspiration I can always go back to old pieces and re-write them. There are, after all, hundreds of poems in my files, and I don’t suppose any of them is quite as good as it might be if I worked on it again now time has passed and I can be more objective.

Sometimes it’s a question of taking the same subject and looking at it from a new perspective; sometimes it’s changing the form – maybe seeing what happens if I remove all the line and stanza breaks and rejig, or maybe taking a free verse piece and putting it into a formal structure such as a sonnet.

Today, I was trying to find something to post to go with one of my recent photos. Having checked online, I think the flower in question is an allium, but my first thought was that it was an ornamental garlic or onion plant. (Perhaps there isn’t really much difference.)

I didn’t think I’d have many onions in my poems, but then I remembered a piece from many years ago, whose title I have always liked. It’s called Kept awake by the smell of onions, and an early version was actually commended in a competition.

Looking back at it, I can see why it wasn’t a winner. The first three stanzas talk about how the narrator sleeps through all sorts of disturbances on the part of her husband – snoring, late night TV, midnight kitchen raids etc. Frankly, there’s not much in them that is really salvageable.

Even so, I still am very fond of the title, and I do think the final stanza has potential:

I thought I’d sleep through anything:
no night-sweats, snores, or partying
disturb my rest. Tonight, though,
raw and pungent, the smell of onions
has insinuated itself into my dreams
and twisted me awake. Now, I’m lying
in the dark and staring at the ceiling
while you lie, cheese-dreaming, by my side.

So that’s one more piece I can put on the revision pile.

Author: don't confuse the narrator

Exploring the boundary between writer and narrator through first person poetry, prose and opinion

3 thoughts on “know your onions”

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