Wednesday, October 3, 2012

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!’" 


  1. This gave me chills! Love the way it is written with the enjambment reflecting the mower going back and forth. Sad...sad...but, wonderful!

    1. Thanks, Linda. I appreciate your kindness.

  2. Awww.... I don't know what the reasons are but was smiling right up until the last Stanza. Beautiful writing, very poignant.

    1. Bren, thank you. I kind of kept my hand close until the end.

  3. Replies
    1. Thanks Sheilagh. That's two sad 3WW poems in a row for me--hopefully next week will be more cheerful!

  4. A very moving poem filled with love and sadness suggesting a break with a loved one.

    1. Thanks, R. for reading with sensitivity.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. A powerful and sad poem.....beautiful writing Nico!

  10. Thank you Carrie, I'm glad you liked it.