"in my next life let me be a tomato"
lusting and unafraid. In this bipedal incarnation
I have always been scared of my own ripening,
mother standing outside the fitting room door.
I only become bright after Bloody Mary’s, only whole
in New Jersey summers where beefsteaks, like baubles,
sag in the yard, where we pass down heirlooms
in thin paper envelopes and I tend barefoot to a garden
that snakes with desire, unashamed to coil and spread.
Cherry Falls, Brandywine, Sweet Aperitif, I kneel
with a spool, staking and tying, checking each morning
after last night’s thunderstorm only to find more
sprawl, the tomatoes have no fear of wind and water,
they gain power from the lightning, while I, in this version
of life, retreat in bed to wither. In this life, rabbits
are afraid of my clumsy gait. In the next, let them come
willingly to nibble my lowest limbs, my outstretched
arm always offering something sweet. I want to return
from reincarnation’s spin covered in dirt and
buds. I want to be unabashed, audacious, to gobble
space, to blush deeper each day in the sun, knowing
I’ll end up in an eager mouth. An overly ripe tomato
will begin sprouting, so excited it is for more life,
so intent to be part of this world, trellising wildly.
For every time in this life I have thought of dying, let me
yield that much fruit in my next, skeleton drooping
under the weight of my own vivacity as I spread to take
more of this air, this fencepost, this forgiving light.
~ Natasha Rao
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