Thursday, March 21, 2019

Watering the tomatoes

Few of us could bear to have ourselves for neighbors.
~Mignon McLaughlin

I feel like I could practically write a poem about this poem. A poem about noticing and then looking again. A poem about neighbors and connection and anonymity and the effort that it takes to reach across such a small distance. (A poem that wonders what if she had tried to give him the tomato plant?)

by wsilver

to the neighbor who keeps watering my tomato plant

by Amanda Williams

I am trying to let it die. We are moving in a few weeks
and I know I will forget to water it, to re-home it in the soil

of our new yard. I figured I’d let it shrivel now, and have one less thing
to haul up into the musty truck, one less item to cross off my packing list

and one less strain on arm, back. But every few days I catch a glimpse
of you from my living room window, bent over the small plant as if scolding

a young child, urging it to grow. You pick up the pollen-dusted watering can
left on its side under a bike wheel, take it into your apartment to fill it.

At first I felt violated, annoyed even, at your taking of my can,
your spontaneous husbandry of my plant, for I truly felt my neglect

read the rest here


Sloth Reads has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Rebecca!


Linda Mitchell said...

Tabatha, I have the oddest connection to your post. I met my eldest in Wuhan, China in 2000.....and she is now a student at Hollins University--where she began as a first year student in 2016. If you check out the credits at the end of your poem you'll see. Funny how little things are a tomato plant that needs water...a neighbor that needs a reminder.

Linda B said...

Sometimes people believe that things in life can be simple, but they rarely are. Her decision is not all wrong, he is not all bad, but in other's eyes, it's different. Interesting to read & then re-read. Thanks, Tabatha

Ruth said...

So good. Thank you, Tabatha - you find such wonderful poems!

Kimberly Hutmacher said...

Oh how I love this poem. I love that after initially being annoyed, the writer thinks about the few things she does know about this neighbor. I miss the days when we actually really knew and conversed with our neighbors and made those "in real life" connections. I also love that she begins to think twice about letting things go too quickly.

Matt Forrest Esenwine said...

I've never read this before, but so glad I have now! So thought-provoking and personal. Thanks for sharing!

Irene Latham said...

Tabatha, you very nearly have written a poem after this poem! Please shape it up for us?? What lovely inspiration. Thank you. xo

Erin Mauger said...

I like the kind of humorous nature of it (at least I find it a bit funny). I don't know why, but it reminds me of my in-law's neighbour who will from time to time leave them a basket full of vegetables they've farmed - a random assortment of tomatoes one time, another time eggplant. There's a language barrier because I believe the neighbour is from Cambodia, but it's sort of become a tradition to receive these vegetables over the years!

jama said...

What a fascinating poem, Tabatha!! The details really paint a picture of both people and makes the reader wonder and think. I, too, wish she had tried to give him the tomato plant.

Rebecca Herzog said...

This is a beautiful poem. And I agree--it really gets you thinking about the possibilities within the situation. If you ever decide to write a response poem, I hope you share it!

Mary Lee said...

I'm with you -- why doesn't she just move the tomato to his side of the porch?

Neighbors are such tricky creatures. We have the one who never rakes leaves, instead, letting them blow into our yard; the one who puts trash out in containers that the city doesn't collect, letting it blow into our yard; the TWO with annoying dogs that bark at us whenever we spend time in our own back yard; the ONE who we trust to care for our cat when we're away and we for her dog when she's late coming home.

Michelle Heidenrich Barnes said...

Ah ha! There's a benefit to waiting until the weekend to leave my comment. I get to read all of these wonderful comments that came before mine. Not only do I love this poem (I don't know where you find them, but I'm glad you do!), but I love reading about others' personal attachments and responses to the poem, including yours. I agree with Irene, your poem has just about written itself in that little intro of yours!

Michelle Kogan said...

Quite a captivating poem, and yes one could write a poem from this poem. Perhaps you have as Michelle and Irene have suggested. Thanks for sharing the poem and the interesting site it came from.

Karen Edmisten said...

Oh, I love the humanity of this poem, and I love your words and thoughts about it, too. :)

Donna Smith said...

Now there's a poem to read again. And you are right, there should be a poem about the poem...a poem from the tomato plant's view, too.