Thursday, January 23, 2014

putting faith in poetry

One of the reasons I like my UU congregation is that hardly a week goes by without a poem as part of the Sunday morning service--a poem read, typically, by a skilled orator.  I grew up in Lutheran churches also led by a skilled orator--my dad--but beyond the poetry of the scriptures, I can't recall a time when a contemporary poem was shared in church.

During all those years growing up Lutheran, a plain-looking magazine printed on newsprint was a fixture in our house:  The Christian Century.  What I didn't know was that my dad's favorite professional publication published a lot of contemporary poetry (and I think, in those days, that he didn't give a lot of attention to the poems either).  Now I am subscribed to this now glossier, very interesting, well-written magazine, thanks to Dad, and the poetry alone is well worth the time.

Here's a little allium-scented sample from the CC website.

Peeling the onion | Luci Shaw

There’s not much I don’t know about you—
yellow, red, sweet—grubbed up roots and all.
Essential for a vigorous cuisine, alerting
the sense—the crackle of your paper brown outer
skin, your translucent inner sheaths like
vegetable undergarments, your pungent heat
rising from sharp steel and cutting board
to my blurred eyes, your precise circles against
the wood, before the sizzle in the buttered pan.

Reluctant to relinquish our intimacy
your sharp essence clings to my fingers, like
a reputation. Hours later, in the dark, you season
the air around my hands, I’ll stud you with
stars of cloves to bury in the belly of the bird
before roasting. Or nestle your pearls
with a stalk of mint among the green peas....

Read the rest here, trying not to get distracted by Shrek, and peel back the layers of Poetry Friday by visiting Tara at A Teaching Life.



  1. I like, "your translucent inner sheaths like vegetable undergarments." A totally delightful read!

  2. This poem, peeling back the layers of an onion compared to our innermost selves, intrigues me. I also perused some of the magazine's site. Thanks for sharing and introducing me to The Christian Century.

  3. Nice! Juicy and spicy and layered. Just like the onion.

  4. Almost didn't make it back here because I spent so much time at The Christian Century poetry archives. Very nice -- thanks!

  5. Love it! Perfect call to start dinner...

    Is there a poem about chopping celery, too? (Maybe I need to write it. But I think celery isn't as deeply philosophical as onions...)

  6. loved the descriptions of your dad + the Lutheran services growing up.

    thanks for pointing me towards Christian Century. can't wait to poke around a bit!

    peace keep you.

  7. You have to respect any poem that glorifies the onion so beautifully! Especially those last two lines-- powerful!


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