On the porch overhanging a back garden
where, sauntering from his studio,
he’d be tinkering with the folds and burrs
of resin for a reconstructed ship’s figurehead,
we were contemplating half-empty bottles
of imported beer, thinking them
a rarity in 1987’s patchy summer.
It’s the smell of cut onions does it,
acid-sweet as our prospects in that house.
Someone standing at the kitchen-counter
with knife poised and oil spitting
might have shouted through the doorway
about something they’d heard on the news.
We had no idea. By the gas fire,
we’d scoop vegetable stew, lay cards
in a game of canasta, assume
history was nothing more than repetition.
We wrote words, words, words,
as if they might save us.
It was 1987 and in the kitchen
we chopped onions forever.