The Onion Man

by Valerie Smith

I slam on the brakes
    commotion ahead
hooting, shouting and swearing
    is somebody dead?
 
a bicycle wobbles
    on the crown of the road
the onion-man bringing
    his brown-braided load
 
festooned round his handlebars
    trailing behind
draped in long necklaces
    round, brown, entwined
 
he takes off his beret
    he puts down his onions
comes in to drink coffee
    behind the lace curtains
 
he smells of stale Gauloise
    of garlic and wine
he wears one gold earring
    (which tangles with mine)
 
a string of his onions
    will spice up your life
a splash of French dressing
    for a home-alone wife