Onion Skins – a poem by Blair Kilpatrick

Onion Skins 

(or huevos haminados)

Curling brown leaves
a pile of discards 

But I see treasure
scraps of parchment 
for telling an old story

The onions emerge
shiny and white 
brown coats left behind 
stripped by
a masked man 
with kind eyes
hands the color of onion skins
who does not look surprised 
when I ask
for a bag of the leavings

—I’ll take an onion too, I tell him

I want him to know
I know
grocers can't make money
on a bag of 
onion skins and air 

—Come back on the weekend, he says
and I can give you more

He wants to help me
— does he know?
I hear an echo of Spain 
in his voice
so perhaps he shares
my secret

We have survived this plague,
my man and I,
passed over
at least this time
So I have ventured out
for a few more provisions
for this season
this day
this evening's meal 
of remembering

Betrayal and death
and rebirth
or at least deliverance
endings and beginnings
two stories intertwined 
two traditions
but hope and gratitude
either way
I almost forgot about the eggs

Now back home
they are swimming

Floating in a swamp
of onion skins
chips of garlic
oil slick on top

They will emerge transformed
by water and fire
their shells burnished deep russet
whites gone nut brown
yellows a deeper gold
and inside
the ancient taste of
smoke and tears

—Passover/Easter 2021

Blair Kilpatrick is a psychologist and musician in Berkeley, California. She is the author of Accordion Dreams: A Journey into Cajun and Creole Music (U. Press Mississippi, 2009). She was the recipient of the first annual Slovenian Literary Award (2019) and is currently working on a family roots memoir. In her free time, she enjoys baking bread, playing the Cajun accordion with her fiddler husband, and visiting their adult children in Toronto and New York. Her website is www.blairkilpatrick.com


  1. Nancy Day says:

    So beautiful, and knowing of another is the most generous sort of love.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh dear Nancy–thank you so much!


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