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.



     I sit on a special stool with a low, curved back.
Grandfather fastens a towel around my neck with a silver-toothed
clip. He combs my bangs down smooth, straight.   

     I can see the Teutonic pores in the dark skin of his
face. He smells like the fir trees in the backyard, leaning
next to the pigeon house. I show him my page from a magazine.

     His shiny scissors open and close against the hard ridge
of my brow. He trims around my face in practiced snips.
Grandmother brings him a saucer of coffee from the kitchen,

     blue and white and delft. They keep us for the night,
their only grandchildren. My younger sisters follow grandmother around,
enthralled by the glass bauble percolating on the stove.

     We sleep in the coldest room. I climb to the topmost bunk,
wood planed by our grandfather. Grandmother tucks us in with her
tuberous knuckles, fussing about how fey we are.

     I smile with a lost tooth, ruffling my new hair.
Grandmother brings us milk and windmill cookies. My sisters
pinch me through the half-railing, painted a high gloss like taffy.

     I turn and twitch, imagining fur and forest,
startled birds.  I slip through a gap in the railing, landing on the
rug of knotted wool, fast and far asleep.

     Grandfather hears the thump and bears me
with his faun arms to a lower bunk where I curl up with a sister
already warm. He whispers sleep good to me in German.

     Clippings rain down all the next day
at his barbershop. Grandfather tells the story of how I fell
from the sky and never woke up, so deep was I dreaming.



© 2019 House of the Tomato