(Queer) Ekphrasis on “Peeling Onions”

Her presence was demanding,
drew every eye in the room
to her breath,
always stood so proud.

You could see it
in her shoulders,
the slight arch of her back,
the determination

in her brow.
When she offered
to paint me, I imagined
a grand portrait, a graceful

gown, to be remembered
as the woman I dreamed
I might become.
Instead, she led me

to the kitchen,
her hands unevenly calloused,
her proud voice trembling
as she whispered
Your elegance needs no gown,
your smile no pearl earrings,
the sanctity of your humility no façade.
And the onions?

Why, they never
could draw my heart
through my eyes
the way she could.

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