Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Two Tomatoes (Poem)

Two Tomatoes
For Grandpa

[L]ight
breaks
in two
tomato halves…

-Pablo Neruda

1

Why don’t you
just eat it?
He
rolls a cherry tomato
across the table.
Shifting it
in hand, I stare
into its gloss,
see nothing but
reflected diner light.
No, I say, dropping it
beside my plate. They’re
gross. Go on,
he says, halving one
with his teeth.
A seed sticks
to his bottom lip.
They’re good. I
swallow a gag:
Yeah, right.
He rolls another
across the table,
finishes his off.
Put some sugar on it.
You’ll like that.

I turn the fruit
in my fingers,
swallow again.
Just one? Just
one,
he says.
I mutilate the flesh,
red as viscera,
with a butter knife.
He tosses me a sugar pack.
I pour the sweetness
half on the fruit, half
on my hand.

2

Pushing back
the privacy curtain,
I cross into his
third floor room,
greet a body
trimmed with tubes
and peaking monitors.
How are you? I ask.
He turns from Grandma,
looks up from his
ashen bed, says
through cracking lips,
I’m good. I bend
to embrace his wilting flesh:
And how’s your hip?
He bares the scar, fresh
as viscera
beneath his gown.
And the heart? I ask. He
turns to the window.
Needs surgery.
His monitor wavers.
A nurse enters.

I slip into the hall.