Nan Fry


May the Rooftree Angel perch on your house
May the Angel of the Odd inhabit its corners
May the Angel of Order and the Angel of Dust
resolve their differences
May the Angel Who Brings the Sea Wind blow through you
May the Angels of Anger, made wholly of fire,
burn with a clarifying flame
May the Angel of Solitude calm you
and the Angel of Tears cleanse you
May the Angel over Wild Fowl and Creeping Things
keep the mice from your bread drawer
and the rats from your cellar
May the Angel of Constellations bring you
clear skies and dark nights
May the Angel of Mysteries remind you
of all we don't know, and may Memuneh, a deputy angel,
dispenser of dreams, bless your sleep
May the Angel of April send you a postcard in February
May the Angels of Snow, of Showers, of the Sirocco
open you to the world's weather
May the Angel of Voyages bless yours
May the Angel of True Visions, Chief of Thunder,
join forces with the Revealing Angel
and may the Angel of Love and Invention
egg you on


Moon Disk, Pluto Platter,
so light in the hand that even I,
never good at sports, could pluck
you out of air and skim you
over my new husband's head.
Sometimes we'd play through dusk
and into the dark, as fireflies rose
from the grass, until we could barely
see you hovering above us, a tiny
spacecraft leaving its orbit.
Still we made each other leap
and run, reaching for you,
flinging you on, a glowing
shuttle weaving bright
invisible threads
between us.


The onion is round.  So is a basketball, a grapefruit, a globe, the moon. 
How does the onion's roundness differ from theirs?    
                                           --Nancy Willard

The onion wears a papery sheath.
It is the moon gone to ground,
light enclosed in a brown paper bag,
not really round, but the shape
of the tears we weep when we take
a knife to its white skin.

"Onions," says the Joy
of Cooking, "are of easy culture.
They prefer moist, rich earth,
sun, and shallow planting."
It does not say they are the moon's
long-lost relatives who send up
green spears toward the sun.

The grapefruit, on the other hand,
is a little sun. We cut it in half
and pour on sun-colored honey.
The mixture of sweet and tart
waking our tongues, we rise
from the table feeling lighter.

''Onions are supposed to be the secret
of health,'' says the Joy of Cooking.
''But how can they keep that secret?''
In a cool, dark place they sleep
in their papery shells. Giant pearls,
they will be married to mushrooms.
Fire is the priest at this wedding.

Onions, sliced into rings,
do not bounce, do not sail
through the air and into a hoop
looped round with netting as the crowd
cheers and the sun is captured
for another year.

Onions live more quietly
though they may sizzle
in their bath of oil.

The onion is not painted blue
where oceans pulse
or green where continents sprawl.
The globes of my childhood
are all wrong now--the names
of countries changed, borders
redrawn, but where the soil
is moist and rich, onions
still flourish, tiny illumined
globes in the spinning dark.

Nan Fry is the author of two collections of poetry: Relearning the Dark (Washington Writers' Publishing House) and Say What I Am Called (Sibyl-Child), a chapbook of riddles she translated from the Anglo-Saxon.  Her work has appeared in numerous magazines such as Poet Lore, The Wallace Stevens Journal, and The Bark; in the online publications Beltway ( and the Journal of Mythic Arts (; and in anthologies such as Poetry in Motion from Coast to Coast (W.W. Norton), The Faery Reel: Tales from the Twilight Realm (Viking / Penguin); and The Best of Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet (Del Rey / Ballantine Books).  She has received a work-in-progress grant and an Individual Artist's Award in poetry from the Maryland State Arts Council and an EDPRESS Award for excellence in educational journalism.  She teaches at The Writer's Center in Bethesda, Maryland.



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