According to writing teacher and author, Natalie Goldberg, “Adding a strong noun in the front or back of your topic cracks open your mind to different ways of seeing the usual.” So, dear readers, I invite you to learn a bit about my belief in onions.
I believe God lives in an onion field. Black earth that once housed arrowheads dug up by too many farmers. One day, not yet, those farmers will begin digging up bones and when they do they will be surprised. I will come along and tell them, “Those are the bones of God and She is here to save you.” And then we will sing and dance and pray and then (and only then) and finally after a too-long wait, the Indian ancestors of that place will be free and they will be happy and they will laugh at my joke. They will not be surprised that a woman who is both Indian and white will be the one to sing the songs and call their bones God. They picked me for this very purpose. They brought me to those fields and gave me deep belief in onions because they knew I was the bone dancer. The only one of those farm kids who would ever pay attention. The Indigenous Mexicans hear the bones too, but they are too afraid of their bosses and too afraid for their families and too afraid of being sent home without correct change. Besides, they have their own bones, in their own lands, in their own homes to worry about. Onion field bones scare them, but they do not scare me. I’ve been listening since I was nine days old. Planting my bare feet in the moist ground. Holy Ground. Where arrowheads float to the surface in flooding and irrigation puddles, where dragonfly wings sparkle in the sun, where mice dance under onion tops, hiding from the hawk people. This is sacred ground that hums with the deep hollow echo of a drum. Grandmother’s heartbeat, lulling an adopted IndianWhite baby to sleep.
Now you try. Write about your donut confessions, the public record of your pie eating, a chronicle of croissants, a diary of pudding, your archival sugar records, accounts of coffee ice cream, the narrative of your sweet life, offer up a roster of carmel tarts you have tasted, or discuss the history of nuts in your life. Pick up your pen and write a little. Or a lot. It’s good for you.
(These and other writing prompts can be found in Natalie Goldberg’s book Old Friend From Far Away: The Practice of Writing Memoir).