The achingly red Roma tomatoes
fill the bleached porcelain sink
like the bulbous detritus of summer.
The remnants of seed and skin
collide and float broken and hollow.
The women work, cut, seed, and trim,
with tanned and muscled hands:
those of sewing, knitting; weeds that are pulled as if,
like clumps of dry worn toe shoes, they only matter to the cloven.

The jars are erect and waiting next morning.
The way they are lined up, shiny later in the bright afternoon
sun speaks of and whispers to something unutterable
and pitiful: loneliness, cancer, death, mourning.

But then, the wide-mouth jar rings are forever sealed
smiling and satisfied in that red-tomato-juice kind of way;
the way it will be like when you open the jar mid-winter
in your white field with your wood pile
having come down to a skeletal sculpting,
a sweet, yet tangy smell will engulf you,
not unlike the smell after sex,
but it will remind you of the two women
who wear their secrets in the blood-red bath.


Dede Cummings

DEDE CUMMINGS is a Vermont poet and publisher, and commentator for Vermont Public Radio. At Middlebury, she won the Mary Dunning Thwing Award, attended Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, published in Mademoiselle, The Lake, Vending Machine, Connotation Press, Mom Egg Review, Figroot, and Bloodroot Literary. She was a Discover/The Nation poetry semi-finalist. To Look Out From won the 2016 Homebound Publications Poetry Prize. The Meeting Place is due out in spring 2019 from Salmon Poetry. Dede is the founder and publisher of Green Writers Press in Brattleboro, Vermont, a global press devoted to environmental activism, social justice, and sustainable publishing.

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