My Life History In Tomatoes

By Kerry Vincent © 2009

 CHILDHOOD

 At Uncle John and Aunt Lillian’s farm, in the breezeway,

An army of tomatoes marches across the big picnic table,

Shored up on the south end by great logs of zucchinis and cucumbers,

Bordered on the north end by a mountain of sweet corn still in the husk.

All is hot, steamy, and still, except for the buzzing of the flies and gnats,

And sometimes the loud banging of the red screen door.

Just down the hill, sprawling in the garden,

A forest of Big Boy tomatoes grow.

In the evening we pick another batch of ripe red orbs.

I dust off a ruby beauty, still warm from the sun,

as big as my face, and bite hard into the firm flesh,

its life juice running down my cheeks and neck

nourishing my blood and bones.

 YOUNG ADULTHOOD

 I just wanna serve the Lord,

Help the poor, feed the hungry,

So I join this inner city ministry

Run by a power-hungry madman,

Where we freeze in the winter

And rarely have enough food to eat.

We pray to the Lord for our daily bread:

As a charity, on good days,

We get the food no one else wants:

Dented and unmarked canned goods,

week-old bread, just starting to mold,

Dairy products just beyond the expiration date,

Half-rotted produce left from the farmer’s market,

Soybeans and millet from an animal feed store,

Not meant for human consumption.

When I am pregnant, and visit my mom,

She asks what I crave, and I say,

“Fresh fruit and vegetables.”

She makes me a veggie sandwich,

With lettuce, glorious farm tomatoes,

Cucumber slices, cheese, and fresh bread,

Still spongy and springy to the touch:

Heaven on earth.

 MOTHERHOOD

Now I am the mother, escaped from the cult,

Now raising my own kids.

My mom has moved to Uncle John’s farm,

Caring for him since Aunt Lillian died.

The kids and I visit in the summer,

timing our vacation around tomato season,

so the children can help bring in the crops

and can the goodness.

When mom visits a few weeks later,

She lugs a heavy suitcase from the train,

Unzips it to reveal precious produce:

Prized farm tomatoes, peppers, carrots:

We feast!

 ON MY OWN

I’m in my cabin in the woods,

Re-writing my novel,

The expose of the cult,

The guest of a lovely retired couple.

They respect my privacy, let me write,

Only knock on the door to bring me

A ripe tomato to go with my supper,

Fresh from their own garden:

A gift of kindness and goodness,

Deeply appreciated.

 TODAY

I’m divorced, re-partnered;

The kids left the nest long ago;

Mom has since had a stroke.

I work as a technical writer

And dream of writing novels again someday.

I bought membership in a community share agriculture farm,

But I don’t get home from work in time to pick up my produce.

Maybe, when the tomatoes come in, I will make the time to go,

So that once more I can taste the richness of the soil

In the ripeness of a juicy red tomato, the earth’s own life blood.

…Summer is not over – there’s still time…

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2 Responses to “My Life History In Tomatoes”

  1. Sarah Joyce Bryant Says:

    Wow! This is amazing the way it weaves through different parts of your life. I grew up in a cult until about age 12. I don’t have too many memories of it though as my childhood memories begin at age 12. I would LOVE to read your novel. Did you publish it? I really like how the tomatoes followed you all through your life. Oh, I hope you get a chance to stop and get your tomatoes this year. If you do you will have to tell us all about it 🙂

  2. pearlz Says:

    What a great idea for a post!!

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