Wild Onions

For Three Word Wednesday. Prompt words dignity, lacerate, ripe

Wild Onions
Traveling south down the interstate
I passed the mowers mowing,
laying down the overgrowth
along the shoulder of the road.
The sweet smell of cut
grass was mixed with wild onion,
which grows in patches here.
Strange how memory resides
in our bodies, not only in our minds;
our very senses pave a road
into the past. I remembered
how, as a kid, I loved
to find these patches,
would crush the thin
leaves in my teeth and wince
at the bitter-ripe taste. But mostly
I remembered a later time,
when I would crank up
the old red Massey Ferguson
to mow the church yard,
twenty sloping acres of grass
and wild onion patches. And you
would come along to ride
beside me, standing on the sideboard
with the dignity of a sentry,
proud to be with me
and I with you. We went
up and down in long
passes, the roar of the rattling
diesel making speech impossible.
Now, for other reasons, speech
is impossible. The thought
lacerates my deepest self, and
I know the meaning of the
words cried out by
David the brokenhearted:
“My son! My son!”


* The last stanza makes use of a story from the Judeo-Christian tradition concerning the Israelite prophet/king David and his son, Absalom. Absalom revolted against his father, and ended up being killed in battle by one of David’s generals. When David heard the news of Absalom’s death, he “wept; and as he went, thus he said, ‘O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!’” 
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14 thoughts on “Wild Onions

  1. My mind filled with the scent of mowed grass and exhaust fumes and
    all that longing for the past but this was made even more poignant when your writing made the connection with the Absalom story and the hurt was palpable.

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  2. Robin, Thanks much. I initially made the post without the end note, but I thought it was rude to expect all readers to know my reference to David and Absalom. Just because I grew up hearing these stories doesn't mean everyone did! But yes, I have always been moved by Absalom and David, and thought the reference fit my mood.

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  3. My mind could be thinking of preparing the Saturday sauna, with the snow four feet deep outside, and the temperature minus 20C; and then I get a whiff of linseed oil,or horse-liniment, and I am instantly transported to a cricket pavilion in England. It's true, the bodily senses can spark memories. Your nostalgic poem ends darkly, but remains beautiful nevertheless.

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  4. Thanks Leigh. The mind/body connection (which you are handling with skill on your blog!) has always interested me. Thanks for seeing the beauty in the sadness.

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