ArtWay

The human being, creature of eyes, needs the image. Leonardo da Vinci

Luci Shaw & Marietha Smit

Lucy Shaw (poem) & Marietha Smit (drawing)

Peeling the onion

by Luci Shaw

There’s not much I don’t know about you—
yellow, red, sweet--grubbed up roots and all.
Essential for a vigorous cuisine, alerting
the senses—the crackle of your paper brown outer
skin, your translucent inner sheaths like
vegetable undergarments, your pungent heat
rising from sharp steel and cutting board
to my blurred eyes, your precise circles against
the wood, before the sizzle in the buttered pan.

Reluctant to relinquish our intimacy
your sharp essence clings to my hands like
a reputation. Hours later, in the dark, you season
the air around my fingers. For a feast I’ll stud you
with stars of cloves and bury you
in the belly of the bird before roasting.
Or nestle your pearls with a stalk of mint
among the green peas. If I leave you too long in
the pantry, your patience exhausted, attenuated,
soft at the center, you send up green spears
through the mesh bag that call out
chop me, make a salad, I am delicious.

How do I interpret my own
layered membranes, like growth rings?
I try to peel away the layers of my
onion heart, never getting all the way in.

*****

Marietha Smit: Peeling IV, 2006, coloured pens on black paper, 2 x 2.1 m.

To read a visual meditation about this drawing, click here.

Marietha Smit is a South-African artist who lives in Johannesburg and works full-time as a high school art teacher. In between teaching she obtained a Masters degree in Fine Art from the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. She also has a Maitrise de Lettres Modernes from the Université de Paris III La Sorbonne Nouvelle in Paris, France. Currently she would like to produce a PhD Visual Autobiography (Fine Art) project that she describes as “basically telling the story of how Jesus Christ saved me, how I was reborn, and how healing, growth and victory have been the hallmark of my life since 1977 and are still happening today.” See www.mariethasmitart.co.za.

Luci Shaw was born in 1928 in London, England, and has lived in Canada, Australia and the U.S.A. A 1953 high honors graduate of Wheaton College in Illinois, she became co-founder and later president of Harold Shaw Publishers. Shaw is a frequent retreat facilitator and leads writing workshops in church and university settings. She has lectured in North America and abroad on topics such as art and spirituality, the Christian imagination, poetry-writing, and journal-writing as an aid to artistic and spiritual growth. Shaw is author of ten volumes of poetry and of a long list of books.  Her most recent books are What the Light Was Like (Word Farm), Accompanied by Angels (Eerdmans), The Genesis of It All (Paraclete), and Breath for the Bones: Art, Imagination & Spirit (Nelson). She and her husband John Hoyte live in Bellingham. See www.lucishaw.com.


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