I planted them in early spring,
after the last frost had passed.
I tilled the earth
pulling weed, removing rot –
Aged, decayed leaves,
not quite mulch.
Clumps of dried-up grass.
Sticks and stems,
Stones and pebbles,
old newspapers and stray debris--
anything that would interfere
with the rearing of my precious crop.
At first, I seeded them in tiny pots
watered them loyally
morning and night
watched eagerly as they slowly sprouted.
Green sprigs of hope
peaking demurely through beads of soil,
white slip of a smile at the very top --
a foretaste of a sumptuous meal to come.
When the time was right, I transplanted them
troweled an intrepid hole
gently set my little seedlings
roots riveted in the rich, brown loam.
Each day, I tended them
watered them with my faithful hose
watched and waited
pulling a stray weed here,
a wildflower there,
guiding them along posts,
securing them in metal cages
set for them to climb and curl.
Devoted father fostering his child
Watchful parent protecting his nascent fold.
Soon, they appeared --
bright yellow blossoms,
then, shortly, gently swollen stems
at last, plush, plump green bulbs
strung like Christmas balls
suspended along graceful winding vines
buoyant in the summer sun
eager to attain their crimson destiny.
Then, one day,
the sun still settling in the morning sky,
they were gone
snatched away from their innocent perch.
A stray deer perhaps
or maybe an errant rabbit --
animals once dear to the heart
now swiftly sworn enemies.
How easily we pivot from love to hate!
How inscrutable the anger!
Once a tomato patch
now but bare bush.
Once wondrous creatures of God
now merely hateful foes.
And the clouds gather in the darkening sky
And the fearsome storm erupts
And the rain and thunder pummel the wailing earth
And the forest cowers in unfathomable fear.
Yet not one tomato in this forsaken world
can possibly equal even one precarious life.
(c) 2016 by Mike Maggio
Mike Maggio is a poet and fiction writer with seven works to his name and numerous publications in journals including The Northern Virginia Review, The L.A. Weekly and others. His eighth book, a novella entitled The Appointment, will be released in May 2017 by Vine Leave Press. He is an adjunct assistant-professor at Northern Virginia Community College, an associate editor of The Potomac Review and the Northern Regional Vice-President of the Poetry Society of Virginia. His web site if www.mikemaggio.net