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.

Stealing a Strawberry


Dining Etiquette:
Don’t pick food off another person’s plate.

Stealing a Strawberry

The trees can tell stories
at the oldest golf course in Wisconsin.
They line the narrow fairways,
grand and rickety with a certain
t i m e l e s s n e s s.
We finish 18 just in time
for the fireside brunch.
The miles I feel in my knees.
The maitre'd holds my chair.
A muffled beat is heard
through the round log walls.
A gardener in a straw hat
plays classic rock
while she weeds the hostas
around a fountain on the last hole.
A chef invites us to make an omelette.
We are welcome to the salad bar.
Two couples sit at an adjoining table:
man, woman, man, woman.
I try to guess who is the spouse of whom.
My husband starts to list chores,
signalling the almost-end
to our mini-break weekend.
One of the other husbands is annoyed
the brunch is out of bacon.
A towering grey-haired crag of a man,
shuffling big feet and lumpy knees,
he sits at the table hunched over his plate.
I wonder if I can improvise
the egg casserole recipe,
creamy and savory with bits of
ham and potato. My bearded husband eyes
the last bite on the rim of my plate.
The women point their disgruntled tablemate
to a new bowl of fruit at the salad bar.
He returns with a fresh salad plate
heaped with chunks of pineapple,
slices of apple, orange, green grapes,
two heart-shaped strawberries.
The pert woman at his left snatches
a strawberry with two fingers,
her eyes wide, round "O" of her lips
mischievous but unrepentant.
She eats the strawberry in one bite,
tossing back her dark head,
the fullness of her cheeks
pushing up cat-eye glasses.
The man beetles his brows at her,
biting the other strawberry.
The impulse tells its own story.
Only a wife, I think, would dare.

The "rule" is a bit of a stretch, but I thought it worth the shot.


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