July 21, 2010

Ode to the Tomato

with apologies to Pablo Neruda

Pablo,
I'll be the first to admit that I do not have your way with words,
but the first tomato from my first garden
exploded in my mouth
in a rush over the sides of my tongue
so that my teeth
felt bathed in red,
and the seeds wallowed
in their own juice
like a pig in a mudbath,
or a dog in a dead carcass.
If you've seen either one of those acts
you know that both are in ecstasy
and the seeds were in ecstasy too
and were rewarding me,
my taste buds,
the warm welcome of my throat.

Pablo,
this tomato was fine,
was my grandfather's hopes for me revealed
in popping,
bursting,
explosion
of flavor that even moments later I still can't describe.

What kind of writer am I Pablo?
That something as simple as a tomato,
freshly picked and rinsed
could leave me speechless, wordless,
a writer that is trying to steer clear
of words like enchanting, heavenly, or divine.
Language says so little about tomatoes, Pablo
about what it means to grow one,
to watch the slow redding of green fruit
and guilt
I didn't share it with my love,
but relished every single drop,
every seed,
every light crushing of skin
in my mouth,
not hers or yours or the people who may read this,
cause this tomato became mine
in the moment I bit down.

It was molars that did the work Pablo.
This was no hunk of flesh that needed tearing from incisors.
No this was pressure,
the slow wait as the skin struggled to keep it all intact,
but then just burst....
....like a tomato.
like a tomato.
It burst like it was supposed to, Pablo.

July 21, 2010

No comments: