On the Tomato

 




Brief Vaudevillian Hypotheses Apropos of this Androgynous Fruit


1
Behold the hero of the vegetable patch
a modest American marvel
with the face of a Chinese lantern.


2
Sheer light made of water:
a fleeting heart, pumping
muted cries of jubilation.


3
Her fancy dress, her festive
fantasy of red confirms a doubt:
she's a lady tossed in the salad by mistake.


16
A tomato rots: here lies
a misfortune greater
than the fall of an empire.


30
And in its slices one can see
a perfect circle of Fate: "dust thou art
and water wilt thou become."


39
Voluptuous little flag:
he makes every dry spell
fresh.


41
To sink one's finger into
its soft flesh: a crime or copulation
as vague as your idea of bliss.


42
(Lorca)
Little tomato, tell me where
the star that shone its light
upon you hides.


44
A tomato crosses the river
on a moonless night:
becomes a plum.


55
(Mark Twain)
A salad can be an anthem to joy
but the proof
is in the tomato.


57
A tomato dribbles: do I see
phantoms of blood run
along the edge of your mouth?


58
The tomato is hushed
on its china plate:
it's discovered the alphabet.


60
To bite into a tomato thinking
of nothing: so the peak
of summer will burst in your mouth.


64
Columbus's was egg
and prophecy: America
is a tomato under sail.


66
A tomato was raised
by two elderly lemons:
now it's a sweet tangerine.


70
Every tomato, a world:
with room for grace and disarray,
traces of memory and desire.


75
And yet, there is no more
voracious love than that of salt
searching for it on the plate.


81
(Xictle tomatl)
The ancient nahuatl word
plants it in our mammalian realm:
it tells us that a good fruit has a navel.


87
Viewed from above:
belly button or mouth beaming
pleats of joy?


89
(Plasmolysis)
Tremulous in the embrace of salt:
its cells contract and gift it with
the bliss of being saturated light.


94
Lycopene floats in its aquatic night,
and potassium, phosphorus, magnesium
and a nuptial march of vitamins swim.


95
Tomato skin: only red
can attain in quietude
such slender smoothness.


97
The taste of tomato
remembered: the damp
face of a barefoot child.


105
You can't forget its show, its sacrifice:
sauce is its strip-tease,
its perfect immolation.


From Del Tomate. Copyright Guillermo Saavedra. By arrangement with the author. Translation copyright 2008 by Cindy Schuster. Poem 105 translated by the author. Illustration courtesy Eduardo Stupia. All rights reserved.