House of the Tomato

If a woman wants to be a poet, she must dwell in the house of the tomato. -- Erica Jong

Regional website for the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets, in partnership with the Reader's Loft.


Celebrating, sharing and inspiring poetry throughout Wisconsin.


          Her eyes were huge, whites

of a blizzard. I served dinner on a door. Parents,

brothers, sisters, cousins arrived from many directions,


          riding in on their horses, mules or tanks.

They shed their matted wool and fur,

hanging onto the door by their elbows, last knuckles.


          The air had bubbles in it,

beery spaces where conversation skipped.

The men were ravenous, laughed too loudly.


          The women rearranged the tableware.

The children pressed their foreheads to the door.

Steam was an engine: what could be, what could not.


          Somehow we made room for more.

We prayed our pathetic grace. Platters were passed

around the door, exclaimed.


          My niece’s eyes were too big for food.

She sat in her father’s lap. Why, she asked,

do none of you speak of my dead mother?


          Fork tines tolled. Our breath plumed

in slow motion. I felt for the icicle in my heart.

Everyone made way at the door.


          My niece and I passed through to a pond

frozen over, gliding across ice, snow flying in large clumps.

Twinkling lights, laden with white, shone through snowy shells.


          Your mother liked the snow, I told her. We skated

turns on the ice, snowflakes splotching our cheeks, chin, lips.

My niece stuck out her tongue.

© 2019 House of the Tomato