Staked Green Tomato

staked green tomato

All he did one day is putter around the place. He cleaned out the stovepipe by unscrewing its pieces and shoving down a stiff wire brush. He tied up the tomatoes against the wooden stakes with torn up bedsheets. He swept the kitchen floor, and was surprised at how much dirt and hair there were. He folded the music on the piano. He thumbed the wet bristles of his toothbrush. He sat on the back step and heard the crickets and katydids. He sat on the front slab of stone and cursed the cars speeding by in his heart. He thought of rust. And he thought of the density of hematite, how heavy it was in the palm of his hand. And the smell of the cow’s wet hay at the end of road where he ran just after dawn when it was first light enough to see everywhere.

Happy Trails Donor

sandwich food on plate

I’d given the usual pint of blood every fifty-six days for the usual half-known reasons. It was something I’d done since high school and had forged my father’s signature over for parental permission to do so. And so long as I was nearby a local Red Cross and wasn’t sick or going to be stacking wood later in the day or conducting a symphony in the evening, I’d go. I think what I like about it was the unknown effect of doing something that’s good to do. That’s all. Once I was sent a post card that named the hospital about forty-five miles away from my house where a patient had been helped out by my unit donated, and that made me feel uneasy and squeamish. I’d rather not know if my blood saved the life of a criminal drunk behind a wheel smashed into a tree, or a little baby with a congenital heart defect under surgery. And afterwards, there were the usual snacks and donor chatter at the snack-and-chatter table where people snacked and chatted about cholesterol and their weight and about the new owners of the local meat market in town we all knew. And I didn’t say a word myself to be clever or prescient or knowing much about anything at all. I didn’t even remember to say how I’d been walking down the mountain just two days before and had crossed the path of another hiker going up who’d warned me about a rattlesnake along the trail she’d seen. And in our chatting about what to do and what not to do when faced with natural dangers or dangers in nature, she said, as for mosquitoes, “Big deal. What’s it to me to give a mosquito a drop of my blood? A little itch.” And I’d said back to her, “When that happens, I’m flying!” She laughed, and wandered on. “Happy descent!” she hollered over her shoulder. “Happy ascent!” I hollered back.

Plate With Peaches And Pit

plate with peaches

The still lives of the absolutely ordinary can be as fresh, alive—seeming—as they were decades or years before. Half-eaten or half-rotten, the transfixed moment of an instant’s attention is kept and returned to on colored paper now. It does not beg the beautiful nor the architectural nor the everlasting. There can be, though, a human richness in just stopping, in having stopped. Though I do not mean ‘richness’, really. A gleam, a blur, a dislodged peach pit spat out on an Italian plate. The other accoutrements of time are there, too, rendering it ‘actual’, and not made up. Even the bit of handwriting, little indecipherable scribbles, change . . . alter the picture pictured from the quaint (and throwaway) to the real (and possible). It is only the art of seeing with one’s own eyes that must be kept, while the rest will just disappear from the globe and all memory just a little bit sooner.