Peeling

The potato has its own eyes,
dry as a sermon.
It’s a cruel, hard, inviolate vegetable,
able to live in a burlap bag
with a hundred others of its kind.
As she peels its dull skin,
her fingers form a cold compromise
with the blade.
If the cut is slow and even,
it will leave her flesh alone.
And, if her eyes are to water,
they must do it on their own.

Her husband’s in the military.
In his world, potato peeling
is punishment.
She hasn’t seen enough of him lately
to appreciate the irony.
There’s no gruff sergeant standing over her
unless life itself is a gruff sergeant.
She looks up every now and then
but that’s not where the orders come from.

She much prefers onions.
They attack her eyes
from the first invasion of their skin.
Tears well up
and who’s to say where they’re coming from.
A potato is indifferent.
An onion sympathizes.

John Grey

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