House of the Tomato

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

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The Honor of your Presence is Requested, Invitations Found in my Mother’s Desk

(Tori-this is a found poem; of a small stationery box with invitations and replies in a box of my mother's things, retrieved when we cleaned out her house in 2006; I've toyed with this idea of a bygone era of formality, and cursive penmanship...I think it needs a punch--I'm left feeling "so what?" about this poem--how could I better convey this period in time that will never return? They were so formal with their parties and get-togethers.  It'sfresh write--so I know it needs editing. BTW my formatting wouldn't roll over here... I had indented stanzas for each separate invitation. )

In 1950s small town Wisconsin
wives were Mrs. John Last Name,
their first names lost to housewife,
homemaker,  raiser of children, mistress of the stove.

The lucky ones were Mrs. John Doctor,
Mrs. John Lawyer or Mrs. John Businessman,
as they might have had some household help.

Their days outside the home were filled with
You are cordially invited for cocktails in the evening,

The honor of your presence is required for
an autumn buffet at the country club.

You are invited to Christmas Tea
3:30-5:30 p.m. on December the eighteenth.

The pleasure of your company is requested at
The Bachelor and Benedicts Ball on
Saturday evening the twelfth of December.

Please join us for a St Patrick’s day party for a gay time.

to which perfectly, penned notes reply:
We would be honored to accept your invitation
to the picnic on the eighteenth of July at eight.

It is my sincere privilege to accept your invitation
for the party on the eighteenth.

Signed Mrs. John Doctor/Lawyer/Businessman.

Copies of reply drafts line the stationery box
in the bottom drawer of the desk. Emily Post’s Etiquette
tucked alongside.




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