I was able to weave two prompts together today: the Poetic Asides two-for-Tuesday assignment to write about experience/inexperience, and the NaPoWriMo prompt to find inspiration in the names of heirloom vegetables. I had tomatoes on the brain, as well as memories of my Mom.
I dream of a garden of nightshade delights, edible wonders, plump and luscious
painting a triptych of wooden garden boxes every hue of red, orange and yellow.
I dream of my Mom’s tomato plants, wending through the white boards
of our backyard fence, or pressed into their metal cages, like buxom women
chastened by corsets. In August, they’d lean and bow, ready for the curtain to fall,
ready for rebirth in her crock pot and jars, in salsa and sauce, relish and paste.
I turn to the catalogue for advice. The names alone sow seeds of imagination:
the stately Principe Borghese, at its best basking and baking in the sun.
The mighty Neptune and Martian Giant —tomatoes bold enough to grow
where no tomato’s grown before. There’s the extravagant Marglobe VF,
with a moniker like a sports car and priced six times higher than every other plant.
Picture it staked on a plot all its own, Esq. etched at the end of its custom gold nameplate.
But who am I kidding? I’m a greenhorn, not a green thumb. I live on the Prairies.
I need hardy, pragmatic plants, not opulent show-offs. I need the Glacier tomato, cold
weather ready with its thick skin and ruddy face. I need the no-nonsense Large Red Tomato,
frank but fruitful. Straight shooter of the soil . Give me produce, not pretense, baby.
Give me enough sun, rain and patience to see me through the season.
Give me just one juicy globe, that I can hold up high, as I brag to the sky,
Mom! Look what I made!
I did like the prompt suggested by the folks at This Is Not A Literary Journal to harvest words from the signs you see, and will certainly try that another day. The mention of the word “signs” reminded me of the superb There Were No Signs by Irving Layton, which you can listen to here.