Why We Eat Them Raw

— Harry Lafnear

I never learned the trick
for keeping my idols fresh in the fridge—
how to keep their delicate nuance
from being tainted by the root
of onion peeled from its paper tarp
and diced for yesterday’s meal,
the leftovers now open and stinking
on the bottom shelf.

Maybe it’s the plastic wrap,
or the aging Arm and Hammer,
but now they’ve both gone bad:
the heroes gray and soggy,
and the onion, well, the onion
I can’t tell, but still.
I can only hope it’s superficial:
that just under the skin
my handpicked heroes
are still sweet, strong,
and ready, with a bit more work,
to draw the kind of praise
my daily effort deserves.

But I can’t help but feel it’s really the skin
that fooled me from the first:
so flawless, bright and clean,
as if my heroes had never seen the soil.
As if rising out of the earth,
they’d left it all behind.
As if their hearts hadn’t drunk
from the same stream as the onion
and bloomed under the same
gray and soggy sky.
As if leaving the cloak to the onion,
they had somehow nothing to hide.

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