Tomato

In Persephone’s place,
I’d have refused
the pomegranate. But
had Hades offered
another fruit —

more carnelian than ruby,
more savory than sweet,

a bulbous orb, bursting
at nonexistent seams,

sun-warmed and succulent
and swathed in a satiny skin

— I don’t believe
I’d have been able
to resist.

It is a blessing, perhaps,
that the pomegranate, and not
the unknown poma amoris,
passed Persephone’s lips.

For who can tear that skin,
gossamer-thin and tender,
and not suck out the seeds
and sap and supple pulp?

And who, having tasted
the tomato once,
can decline
to taste it twice?

And surely,
in the flesh
of the fruit
of the Underworld,

the goddess would have tasted
the sweet sorrows
and salt tears
of the numberless dead
in every mouthful.

And surely, she
would have stayed
forever
and eaten all there was.

And the world above
would have withered
in winter-mourning,

and we would know

no summer and
no tomatoes.

© Lori A. Claxton 2017

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