My knife never sings but hums instead when withdrawn from its block, a metallic whisper so modest only the wielder may hear it. Or perhaps the dog, who seems to enjoy the kitchen nearly as much as I. A Japanese blade, it’s a joy to hold, perfectly balanced, stainless steel-molybdenum alloy, blade and handle of one piece, bright, untarnished, and so sharp as to slide through, rather than awkwardly rupture and divide, its next task on the board.

We’ve never counted the chopped and rendered onions, the fine dice, slender rings and discarded skins, but if we could gather all the corpses we’ve produced together over the years, we’d form a monument to our work, cooperation of metal and man, a Waterloo mound in memory of the bulbs laid there, the planning involved, the missteps and serendipity, and the tears shed along the way.

The blade doesn’t care. It is. It works. It moves things, it lifts, it parts them, and in return is cleansed, and later, in the quiet room, maintains its edge with a silvery rasp, angled steel on steel in a circular motion, over and over, until finally it hums its way back into the block. But it never sings.


“Onions” last appeared here in December 2019. Hmm. This reminds me (again) that I need to sharpen knives…

Alas, my bout with COVID-19 has rendered me incapable of, or unwilling to, cut into onions. Parosmia has reared its ugly head, and now onions, garlic, bacon, peppers, arugula and hoppy ales among other beloved foods emit odors resembling a mix of raw sewage, mildewed peat moss and burnt wood. Ah, 2020!

8 thoughts on “Onions

  1. Interesting that an ode to your knife is titled for one of its many callings … though I confess “onions” draws my interest! This time reading this (the poem hasn’t changed, but I have – we all have changed in the past year+) I find myself more aligned with knife than onions – curious about its other encounters (slicing peppers? fileting meat from bones?) and wondering if the hum is ever-ready or needs periodic recharging via perform for/with its obvious partner?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, onions, because over the years I’ve sliced more of them than anything else. But peppers, particularly poblanos, jalapenos and red bells, would be second on the list. And yes, the hum needs fine-tuning, but the knife takes care of that on its own. I’m just along for the ride. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you! Mostly better. We’ve both suffered from parosmia for about 13 months, and while it has improved — chocolate, bacon and sparkling wine are tolerable now — onions and peppers are still iffy. I’m just grateful that we’re both healthy.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I don’t recall either mentioning foul odor or taste, but my son and his girlfriend still have parosmia after several months, although it’s greatly reduced My granddaughter and her boyfriend are currently experiencing breakthrough COVID-19, and it’s definitely affected their sense of smell.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I think most COVID victims lose their sense of smell for at least a while, but only about 10% are misfortunate enough to get the distorted taste/smell. I’ve just added back cooked serrano peppers to the list of foods I can eat once again. Raw serranos still smell horrible, but they’re okay cooked. Weird how that is.

      Liked by 2 people

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