My mother told me that men are like onions
tough on the outside—thick
layers of grit, dirt, earth, skin—
but sever that shell and they’re soft,
malleable, so bitter they’re almost sweet,
a sting that brings tears and an aftertaste
heavy on your tongue. I am a woman.
I chop celery and potatoes. I boil water. I trim
the fat off chicken breasts.
There is a red pot on the stove. A linen napkin
folded on the wooden table. A glass of ice water
sweating on its coaster. My hands are bare and raw.
I do not wear an apron. I sharpen my knives.
Press the blade into papery-thin skin.
Slice layer upon layer.
And I set the table for one.