Tuesday, April 8, 2014

a poem by juan luis guzmán


Have you ever plucked onions
from pockets of rich and loosened Kings

County soil, used your fingers to reach in
and cup bulbs from underneath themselves?

One season, my father leases land to grow
Fresno Sweet Red Onions. I spend weekends

with my mother learning how to draw out
the plant without hurting the value of each

globe. Mornings and afternoons, we pick them,
we take shears, we clip stems, green and hearty,

we place onions in burlap to dry before we pack
and ship them away. At night, I take off

my clothes for a girl with a swimming pool,
hiding my body each time I emerge

from the dark water, pulling out my naked self,
the way I yank onions all day—bare

and so new—the sting of them, still
on my skin and in the sweet red air.

"Onions" first appeared in Pilgrimage.

Juan Luis Guzmán earned an MFA from CSU, Fresno. A member of the Macondo Writers' Workshop and a fellow of CantoMundo, his poetry has appeared in a number of literary journals including BorderSenses, CRATE, [PANK], and Huizache. He teaches at Fresno City College.

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