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.

Bath Night

Weird memories of my mother coming back... she was a wonderful, complicated and infuriating woman...

Bath Night

Mother helps us wrap our hair
in towels like Queens of Sheba.

She stomps the shag carpet in her pincurls
and drifting cigarette.

We half-dry.

Towels belong in the bathroom
or down the chute.

The clean scent of softener on our pajamas,
flouncy babydolls with elastic leg ruffles,
some slinky, newfangled fabric.

We tip over in a pile of girl
with our damp skin, legs and downy arms,
long necks with our hair pulled up.

Mother hands us hairbrushes,
watches us pull at our scalps.

Father, outnumbered, works late.

I know the patterns of both my sisters' tan lines,
their nipples neat as coins.

Our mother reads us One Eye, Two Eyes, and Three Eyes.
Two Eyes is supposed to be the heroine, but Three Eyes uncovers the truth.
Only two eyes close.
The third eye is curious.

"Vaginas need air," says our mother. Light's out.

We kick off our pajama bottoms,
feel the night air between our legs.

She kisses us goodnight,
glancing kisses with her dry lips.

She smells of Viceroy and Dippity-do.

We imagine the ecosystem of our private parts,
part eye, part channel to a hidden chamber.

© 2019 House of the Tomato