by Michelle Morgan | March 23, 2023
the best tomatoes grow close to the dirt.
their cunning makes them sweeter, ripening
in hiding like any masterpiece
awaiting an end to incubation:
dew-drops in shades of ruby
glittering, garnet, sanguine beads slowly seeping,
secretly, from spined vines and hives,
from stems and suckers, trichomed capillaries
breathing hearts beating pericarp and placenta,
exhaling sacrifice to the annelid midwife.
the veiny tangle does not give without taking.
so, pinch: mandibles, contracting, expanding;
inimitable to thorned leaves chewed and perforated.
reach deep for muddy fingernails, biting webs,
silky stinging kisses of arachnids, of insects
engorged and popped: existential thirst
quenched with a palm to an eye bag, reduced
to a crimson smear and spit, festering
a dying curse. a subcutaneous ghost
exacts evolutionary revenge.
one gluttonous creature against another,
separated by circumstance,
a victory of unfortunate timing;
nobody likes a sore loser.
the best tomatoes grow close to the dirt,
where the worst decay: solanaceae
seeds and spores synonymous, seductive.
half-buried gems: rot’s clever façade
of beautiful hyphae, hostile to human hands;
vicious mycelia whisper to fickle fingerprints:
it’s not your turn.
alien haemolymph, twitching exoskeleton,
a different kind of life than blood and bone –
a life knowing nothing beyond the earth,
the missed chances it absorbs.
undertakers by design,
better they get to the tomato first. ∎
Words by Michelle Morgan
Art by Evelyn Homewood