This Fierce Elation by Wendy Drexler

This Fierce Elation

—after the photo “Autumn Abundance” by Yvette Melzer

Look into this window with me:
all these tomatoes ripening
on the sill, their fleshy heft caressed
by light—these Romas in a bowl
are fire-engine red and then a chime
of tangerine, then Brandywine,
then one creamy white that rests
upon the shoulders
of a large-lobed Heirloom,
a peek of tiger—as if their flesh
will never be blemished or blighted,
always this empire of ruby,
amber, sandstone, the promise
of salt on the counter, the knife’s
slice, and seduced as I am
by such fierce elation, I haven’t
noticed until now there’s a woman
behind them, camouflaged
against the sepia background
(her kitchen?), thin-strapped chemise,
bare shoulders, a mug of coffee
in her hand, and now I look harder,
the woman’s fingers are clenching
the handle of the mug, her grip insisting
I see the work of holding on—
planting the seeds in soil, watering,
weeding so the seeds would cling
to earth, staking the sprouting tendrils,
holding each ripe tomato in her
cupped palm, confirming wholeness,
before she picked them one by one,
placed them gently in her basket
and carried them into her kitchen,
setting them down on that sill—
I see you, vigorous parade
of tomatoes, woman with your still-
warm cup of coffee in your hand.

by Wendy Drexler

Editor’s Note: The detailed, clear imagery of this poem highlights the strength that lies behind the obvious beauty of tomatoes, and the fierce joy of this discovery.