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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GREEN BAY / NORTHEAST

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Coming Home (for Peter 1945-2004)

Tori--I've worked on this poem for years, and recently, weeks.  It was a short 2-stanza poem that started with the first stanza here. "Coma is the Comma". The ministers/orthodox priests (his wife was middle east orthodox) at the funeral loved that line..Coma is the comma., so I'm trying to keep it). I read a shorter version at his funeral in 2004. I've expanded, added info.  now and wonder if it might be a strong last poem for the Vietnam letters/poems book.  I hope the ending doesn't sound sappy.  I know I jump from Christmas to Autumn at the end...but autumn was his favorite and he loved the coolness, in contrast to the stinking heat in VN. Or maybe I should just end it at, the 2nd to last stanza?  (I'm thinking of doing a sieres of Haiku in the book--that last stanza could be one to include in that.)

 

Coma was the comma
before you crossed over,
this, a sad leave-taking,
for those of us left behind.

For you, no more nightmares,
no more Vietnam flashbacks,
or stinking heat of the jungle you hated.
No more chemo, cutting, cringing, IVs removed.

You’ve come home again,
this time to the cocoon of a hospital bed
in the living room, a week before Christmas.
Your head turning toward the window
a spark of recognition seeing the tree lit and decorated.

There were no words left in you.
Your wife whispered, “You’re home for Christmas”
as you quietly slipped into a twilight coma,
Sheeba, the cat, curled
into the back of your contracted legs,
purring. She never left your bed.
You didn’t make it to Christmas

or maybe you did,
traveling your last R & R,
learning the mystery of death,
that I ache to know.

On crisp autumn mornings, I think of you,
in our shared memory of the cool air you loved,
kicking up leaves under chrome yellow maples,
comforted by deep blue skies.

 

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