Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Tomatoes

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By August we are overrun:
fruit crawling out of careful
cages, vines sliding anchors
onto the bricks of our house,
last years' roots inching out
of their beds and spreading
across the clipped grass lawn.

They ripen seemingly overnight
despite my best efforts at arresting
them as green jelly, green pies, fried
green slices blanketed in cornmeal
and needled with seeds. My husband

rankles at their ubiquitousness
and bemoans yet another plate
of the menstrual red poured
over fat pale strings of pasta.

We have no children to pluck
their pendulous, insistent weight
from the vines. Abhorring rot,
I pick the heavy, testicular
globes, carry them to my kitchen,
do the only thing I know to do:

peel, seed, crush, cook, reduce
them to sauce and stack the ticking,
cooling jars in the basement.


M.N. Altenderfer’s work has appeared in Ms., YAWP, The Taproot Literary Review, The Carlow Journal, Pittsburgh City Paper, Water-Stone Review, The New Yinzer, Gastronomica, and in the anthologies September 11, 2001: American Writers Respond and Dirt. She was the Reading Series Coordinator for the International Poetry Forum in Pittsburgh for seven years before receiving her MFA from Carlow University. She lives in San Francisco with her husband, daughter, and a retired racing greyhound.


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