A MARYLAND TOMATO

Judith Skillman

Shines on the table—green crown, stemmed like a star
whose red giant insides plump with flesh and seeds star
 
the heavens. Of the nightshade family, this single star
taken—or did it fall?— from sprawling vine to hand, where
 
it was gifted. A globe of longitude lines yellower
than Mars red, a pure indifference beneath the lighter star
 
of lamp above table in kitchen on cloth. The others,
come from Europe, left this fruit for poison. How else star
 
these bright, shiny globes, these leaves run rampant at an altar
where heat bakes and fever-dreams come as tiny bright stars
 
lighting our heads with vertigo? Here the heat of our sun star
bakes fields gone dun with thirst for water. Irrigation’s rare.
 
Fusarium upon the top, little pole of dark on the other hemisphere—
a south we came to by chance, the bite, the tang, and our star-scented star.

 

JUDITH SKILLMAN's recent book is House of Burnt Offerings, Pleasure Boat Studio. Her work has appeared in J Journal, The Southern Review, Tampa Review, Prairie Schooner, FIELD, The Iowa Review, Poetry, and elsewhere. Her awards include a Eric Mathieu King Fund grant from the Academy of American Poets. Currently she works on manuscript review: www.judithskillman.com