Last night I cleared out about twenty pounds of paper. Most of it was easy--paid bills from 2004, warranty slips for things I don't even own any more, that sort of thing. Some of it was harder. I have a file of magazine clippings that I've been carrying around (and adding to) since, I don't know, 1995 or so. So I went through it, pruned what I could. One of the things I kept--easy choice--is the following poem by Melissa Montimurro from Literal Latte, Volume 7, Number 5, and first prize winner in the Food Verse Contest, and it gets me every time:
Why Onions Give Us Their Tears
Because they are secretly afraid of the dark.
Because they are homely and humble and cannot bear the sadness.
Because they've held all of the hopes of the lily yet will never pose wanly in a vase
but be tamed in a kettle instead.
Because the garden was a long lush dream above them.
Because once for a moment they felt the sun on their maiden heads
and they knew then what the others knew
cabbage and chard and sugar snap
that it was the hot kiss of the galaxy
and they had misspent their entire lives.
Because they would drown in the waters of their own weeping.
"Officially, you can never eat it here. Well, it's not that you can't eat it, but, no, you can't eat it. That's the only answer I can give you." - Masataka Kinashi, head of the Usuki Tourism Association, Japan
And the family trip we took to Xian, which I've mined once or twice before, comes through for me once again: a hard moment going bright, now up as part of Issue Two of the fine new Hot Metal Bridge, along with great fiction by Dan Chaon and Dan Marshall, nonfiction by Michelle Wildgen and Shya Scanlon, and interviews with Tom Perrotta and Stewart O’Nan.