It Takes Twelve (12) Onions to Make My Mom Cry

it takes twelve (12) onions to make my mom cry.

her mascara was running

and she wouldn’t stop saying dammit.

she cursed this twelfth onion

because it was her last one

and all the eleven before hadn’t made her cry

but this one waterfell.


she wouldn’t stop laughing

but boy she kept saying dammit.

she cursed the cutting board and the kitchen knife,

the lit match, the goggles, the fridge,

the cold water, the held breath,

the fan, the lemon juice,

the burnt match,

and all the other methods

that people say will keep onions from making tears

but don’t actually work.


her hands were

shaky

but she never cut herself.

so she laughed while crying and saying dammit 

and cursing this world.


i came upstairs

from the basement

and boy did we laugh.

i laughed at her

and with her,

her eyes were cascading

black streaks of what she’d carefully applied.


when my mother was growing up

my grandpa constantly shamed her for her makeup.

he said it was the sin of pride.

my mom grew up in a small town in oregon

and eastern washington

and she wasn’t allowed to go to school dances

because that was the sin of lust.


isn’t it funny how

femininity is shamed

even when it’s on women?

i find it funny

as a man very much in touch with his feminine side

just how much of men’s hatred of women

gets projected on me.


it takes twelve (12) onions to make my mom cry.

her mascara was running

and she wouldn’t stop saying dammit.

she cursed this twelfth onion

because it was her last one

and all the eleven before hadn’t made her cry

but this one waterfell.

Mercury-Marvin Sunderland is a Hellenist transgender autistic gay man from Seattle who uses he/him pronouns. He currently attends The Evergreen State College, and his dream is to become the most banned author in human history. He can be found as @Romangodmercury on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.