Purpose Statement

Exploration -> Experience -> Feeling -> Transformation -> Understanding

Friday, October 08, 2010

October’s Tomatoes

Between the apple trees
nebulous vines bend to the earth,
heavy with hard green fruit.
Above, vines of south bound geese
honk “Frost - Frost.”

In the shade between the leaves,
a glimpse of red leads my hand
to fruit, plump and ripe.
Polished on my shirt
it is crisp and sweet.

How wonderful were the summer’s tomatoes,
red fleshy fruit of my labor and love?
These vines that I nurture
nourish me more than the waxy,
tasteless fruit of convenience.

We need more time, these autumn vines and I.
This hard green fruit
could feed the world.
It’s the inevitability of winter that makes
October’s tomatoes the sweetest.
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A long time ago, my fantastically talented friend Marshall Ralph wrote a poem "Green Tomatoes" for a poetry slam in Ketchum, ID. He read it to me in the office one evening. It was about winter bearing down on his green tomatoes and how he needed more time to fully ripen.

I moved into my new house in Elko last weekend. The previous owner had a lovely little vegetable garden in the backyard and I have been enjoying fresh tomatoes all week. Winter is upon us here in Elko. The mountains were all dusted with snow this week. A few days ago, as I stood in the garden eating tomatoes off the vine, I thought "October's tomatoes are the sweetest, because winter is about to destroy everything" and I remembered Marshall's poem. I shot an email off to Marshall and he sent me his wonderful poem. I thought that would be the end of it, but somehow I had to sit down this evening and write my own version, "October's Tomatoes," of Marshall's poem, "Green Tomatoes." The line about vines of geese training south honking "Frost" is blatant plagerism, as is the whole concept of the poem, but hopefully this full disclosure somehow relieves me from any wrong doing. I'll ask Marshall if he would mind if I published his poem here for your enjoyment.

I tell you this, after struggling with "October's Tomatoes" and then going back and rereading Marshall's poem, I have much more appreciation for what he wrote.

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