Poem note: I’ll be eating the last garden-fresh ripe tomato later this week—Cherokees ripened on the kitchen table. The race is on—last tomato or last rose. The roses usually win here in Oregon.
Queen of the Nightshades
I told the girls, old girls you know and several of them,
to bury me in the garden where my ripe tomatoes grow.
Ashes or whatever, stir them in because when I’m counting
seasons of the many’s—those repetitive accumulations
of cars, dogs, summers and blue jeans, I never forget tomatoes,
varieties I’ve made deep holes to plant in gardens
that moved from the side of a cliff to near an urban driveway
to a rototilled vegetable garden on a gentle southside slope
and now to rows of raised beds. Photos of my buckets
of ripe red tomatoes get me through
cold months of the year while I ignore hothouse
winter tomatoes. These Romas. Cherokees, candy
Sun-Golds, and then the Brandywines.
This major-domo of the garden blesses each tomato
that balloons to juicy from inelegant yellow flower,
a bud that makes few promises of succulence.
I begin to a circle dance around the sprawl
in August. The red queen holds court
with basil and marigolds who sit on the sidelines
valiantly cheering her on for vigor
Ah, ripe tomatoes, for the gardener
what no one on the faraway factory farm
can ever make sweeter, redder,
or better. Bury me where my red queen grows.
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Tricia Knoll is an Oregon poet with two books in print—Ocean’s Laughter (Aldrich Press 2016) and Urban Wild (Finishing Line Press 2014). Website: triciaknoll.com