i have eaten many a homegrown tomato over many a kitchen sink, and like baseball, the views from the windows over those sinks are a constant through all my years. i can draw for you pictures of the plants, the sun, the heat, the overhead trees, the smell of rain hopefully coming. the pink and purplish four o'clocks of my grandmother's backyard, a tomato eaten at her back porch door; from her kitchen window, chinaberry trees and blackberry brambles and my uncle's sandy yard, always the color of dust in my dreams and rememberings. another house, a horse beyond the fence, a path into the darkness and shade of deeper woods. my mother's many views: her arizona kitchen, clothes drying on the line as fast as they were hung, vegetables planted along the edges of the yard, babied into ripeness by her texas hands; her last home with my father, a shady courtyard, a pond with goldfish; the kitchen of her final years overlooking yet another back porch, dogwoods, azaleas, red flowers, a fig tree. and my home now? butterfly bushes, wisteria. a cat asleep in the shade.
the tomatoes always taste the same.
they taste of god and sweat and heaven and heat.
last week. massage night. magic with therapist. it had been a bad day, and as she worked a particular spot near my right shoulder, we began to talk. we seldom do - i like the lights low, the conversation minimal, and so does she, feeling her way through my last two weeks, finding the argument i shouldn't have walked away from, finding the sleepless nights, the too many hours on the computer, the too heavy tote bag i keep saying i will empty. it had been a bad day and i was shaky again, a tight chest from holding my breath too close, and we began to talk of tomatoes, warm ones fresh from the earth, washed and salted and dripping under the summer sun, and i saw the sandy rows of gardens i have known, saw those kitchen sinks, saw the views out those windows. we talked of salsa, homemade, and okra and plums and blackberries, and cherries, which she said would cure insomnia. avocados, i said, will do the same, but i could taste those cherries, and i began to breathe.
on the way home, i stopped at the market.
no cherries yet; i bought plums instead,
and apricot jam.