In poems from such women as Jane Kenyon, Lucille Clifton, Anne Sexton, and Sylvia Plath, food emerges as a reoccurring and central metaphor in the way women live, in the pulse of the everyday, and as a vehicle for the exotic. From coffee to caviar, from potatoes to dandelions—even in hunger and anorexia—the metaphors of food have worked like yeast in the imagination of these poets. Includes poems by: Ai • Eavan Boland • Gwendolyn Brooks • Sandra Cisneros • Lucille Clifton • Emily Dickinson • Carolyn Forche • Isabella Gardner • Jorie Graham • Linda Gregg • Marilyn Hacker • Jane Hirschfield • Linda Hogan • Shirley Kaufman • Jane Kenyon • Maxine Kumen • Denise Levertov • Joe-Anne McLaughlin • Naomi Shihab Nye • Sharon Olds • Martha Rhodes • Edna St. Vincent Millay • Anne Sexton • Ntozaki Shange • Jean Valentine • Ellen Bryant Voigt • And many more. . . .
The Traveling Onion
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,
—Naomi Shihab Nye
© BOA Editions, Ltd. 2002