She stopped at the tomato vines
as if to hug them, as if to grow on
a vine like them, always in season,
bright and new or plump or rosy
or quickly breaking down into
new year’s seed when neglected.
It was right before she filled her basket.
She could feel her father’s grip
on her right shoulder, his forearm
sinewy and hard from his daily work,
so like the three pound tool he wielded.
It was that moment when she
peered down into the basket
and its emptiness didn’t matter.
At least it had a point.
A least it almost had a face.
She had forgotten why she’d argued
with her husband.
She wasn’t even sure why she had
summoned up her father.
Blame it on the heat
and clouds of crickets like
something from the Book of Revelations.
Blame it on the sweats,
those gallons of water,
the earth’s liquid memory
that force you into constantly
wading through them.
His silence was still in her ears,
striking a balance with the heat
and the earth and the vines
and the magic faces of the fruit.
“Take them, they’re yours,”
her father whispered.
And bring them back to him she thought.
His bright red reward hogging
the kitchen table.
His tasty love apples bursting in his mouth.
His tang on the lips, his fullness
to the stomach. His life. His house.
And she, somewhere below, in a silent stairwell
looking up, far into the distance,
staring at that ripe tomato of a sun.
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Sheepshead Review, Stand, Poetry Salzburg Review and Hollins Critic. Latest book, Covert, available through Amazon.