Granddaddy’s Onions

I come from generations 
of Carolina soil, red-dirt 
roads, back-country Virginia. 
Ancestral apple orchards, 
onion picking—my genetic markers, 
some kind of backwoods double-helix 
tying poverty to potential. 
My granddaddy never went 
a day without mud  
on his boots, hands rough and  
chapped from picking Vidalia onions, 
a hunger for knowledge coursing through 
his Carolina blood. 
When he died, 
I slowly started 
to inhale that bitter 
earthiness, coming  
from the slow realization 
that granddaddy’s onions 
got us through,  
the sharpness of onion,  
the sweetness of dirt.