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Tend

at the beginning of spring I tried 6 times to grow a tomato
I sprouted 6 seedlings then let them wilt
I laid a tomato slice in a different pot
and it crusted up in the soil
finally I traded money for a little plant
and set it on the way out the door

where I remembered to water it all summer
and it grew and it gave me good tomatoes
which I picked and ate immediately,
no recipe but “eat this tomato”

you bake a pie and then you’re like
“don’t mess up my pie!”
or like you have to take a picture of it before
the plaited crust turns into a bolus in someone’s gross throat

but then with peaches
I’m like, going ahead to chop these up
these most beautiful careful intricate things in the world
or just slamming the juicy corrugation of an orange against
the plastic juicer, hurry hurry before
they fall off the tree and rot

I was going to end the poem back there
after telling you about the tomatoes,
but now I want to tell you a sin
I redacted from an earlier version;

not that of complicating the wholeness of fruit
(like a Pharisee, perfecting the perfect)
but a sin against stewardship; that I let
the tree dry up, and let its spicy leaf and stalk
go yellow, go brittle
neglected that last tomato
into a little striving ornament
abandoned, adopted by rain

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from East French Press: Poetry Power Hour, released April 25, 2021

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