I'll be your onion if you want me to be.
I planted onion seeds today after thinking about what I learned recently about ritual canang offerings—I was told it’s more important that the ritual be easy enough to be repeated on a daily basis, than for the offering to be ornate or extravagant. I like planting seeds because it’s just a waiting game. I’ll hover over the planter and expect my gaze to make the seeds sprout. Magical thinking. In parts of Asia, the daily flora are super exotic. Prayer altars are filled with wild orchids, strings of marigolds and plates of fragrant fruit. Replicating those exact visual artifacts may be unsustainable. So maybe here in Pennsylvania, the plants at our immediate daily disposal are basic by comparison—tree leaves, grass—but that’s still an altar to beauty isn’t it.
I have made up a memory that someone said they use onions in their canang because they are easy to source but also because the pungent scent is so clarifying. Easy and hard at once.
I’m the one who actually said it.
It sounds better in the third person, though. If I ever tell you “someone once told me,” just know that I might have assumed a cover for myself. I’ve lately been experimenting with notions of heteronyms, anonymity, distance from my own authorship. I hope this isn’t perceived as conniving. I do it because I am a coward. In so many ways.
I will use the onion to invoke a perimeter of pure emotional power. Immunity from betrayal. Please do not double cross me now. If you ever knew my first identity first, then my second identity is the onion.
I offer you this onion. If you would just walk through the threshold of odor. It’s a scent that warns and celebrates the breaking of a boundary. Like fireworks and sirens, the primary function of an onion’s scent is caution, the secondary function is excitement. If you’re close enough to smell it you’re too close, but come closer, and… and… and…suddenly: perfection. A dangerous boundary is one without scent and you may thrive with milk, bread, and the generic pleasure of sugar, but they will never have names.
Name me instead.
I’d rather cry for the rest of my life than avoid this. I do not need to be an exotic. I am not sunflowers. I am not roses. I am not marigolds but I am going to be the most intoxicating and banal plant you have ever put in your mouth.