Poetry Friday: Cherry Tomatoes by Anne Higgins

poetry friday (1)

 The Poetry Friday Roundup  is at My Juicy Little Universe.

Vermont is an eight minute drive from our farm in Washington County, NY, and its green mountains are just as much part of the every day scenery around here as are the dairy farms and cornfields of upstate New York.  In fact, I see an equal number of Vermont license plates as I do ones from New York in my travels everyday.  We are, it appears, close and good neighbors.  One of the great delights of being here has been access to Vermont Public Radio, host to NPR, which is I what I listen to whenever I’m not teaching, reading, or talking.  I’m learning a lot about Vermont, and liking the state and its people more and more every day. It’s actually a relief to get a bit of distance from NPR in New York City for the summer, and listen to stories about searching for whippoorwills and the history of log driving for a change.  Best of all, VPN hosts the Writer’s Almanac (sadly, WNYC does not), so every morning I get to hear Garrison Keillor read a poem and tell of literary events that took place on this day of the month in years past.

On Wednesday, he  shared a poem about tomatoes which had me eating them for breakfast.  Who would not want to, after reading this?

cherry tomatoes

Cherry Tomatoes

Suddenly it is August again, so hot,
breathless heat.
I sit on the ground
in the garden of Carmel,
picking ripe cherry tomatoes
and eating them.
They are so ripe that the skin is split,
so warm and sweet
from the attentions of the sun,
the juice bursts in my mouth,
an ecstatic taste,
and I feel that I am in the mouth of summer,
sloshing in the saliva of August.
Hummingbirds halo me there,
in the great green silence,
and my own bursting heart
splits me with life.

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14 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Cherry Tomatoes by Anne Higgins

  1. Tara, this poem is wonderful. I am enjoying cherry tomatoes from my garden these days, and am so glad to have a poem for the experience. I also visit Washington County, NY near Vermont border a lot and can picture your post! I love your blog.

  2. “the mouth of August” I am not a huge tomato fan but the fresh ones in August are hard to resist. Thanks for sharing this poem.

  3. I was reading your post and thought about how much it reminded me of that old movie The Prairie Home Companion, and of course, there was Garrison Keillor at the end. What a great poem about one of my favorite things to eat. I’m definitely going to copy and keep it. Thanks for posting it.

  4. To be “split with life”–this is the juicy universe I want to live in! I’ve seen this poem before but was struck all over again when my mom forwarded it from TWA this week. And this morning the neighborhood handyman arrived to do a few jobs with a handful of cherry tomatoes to share. Wow.

    Vermont rocks, as far as I can tell…

  5. I saw this poem this week! I had fun watering a friend’s garden and when she came home this week, she told me that I didn’t take enough tomatoes. I was more than happy to walk her neighborhood and fill another bag.
    “…the juice bursts in my mouth,
    an ecstatic taste,
    and I feel that I am in the mouth of summer,
    sloshing in the saliva of August.”
    What a marvelous description of the ecstasy of a ripe tomato! I’m so happy to see this poem again. Author?

  6. I, too, was stopped by the phrase “in the mouth of summer.” How delicious! Sometimes, just smelling the dried vine on a ripe tomato is enough to make me giddy. Thanks for posting this, Tara.

  7. This perfectly describes the best thing about summer–ripe cherry tomatoes! (Ripe tomatoes sometimes wrestle with ripe peaches for the title, “Best Thing about Summer.”) I’m so glad you shared it today. One of our library users gave me a cuke from his garden today. I feel blessed.

  8. Our garden is underproducing this year, but a friend shared from hers and we currently have a puddle of cherry tomatoes on our counter, ready to be gobbled, even though they aren’t still warm from the sun (my favorite way to eat them). As a teen, I would clean the plants of ripe ones as I left for swim practice on my bike in the early morning. One day at lunch, mom observed that the tomatoes seemed to have lots of ripening tomatoes but never any ripe ones. I knew then that I was busted.

  9. Wow what a line: “and I feel that I am in the mouth of summer,” I am savoring those tomatoes. My husband’s beefsteaks are juicy and succulent. I love this poem, Tara.

  10. Hi, Tara. Anne is a friend of mine. She is on the faculty of Mount Saint Mary’s University here in Maryland. We got to know each other through working on the anthology LIFE IN ME LIKE GRASS ON FIRE: LOVE POEMS. She’ll be tickled that you featured her poem on your blog.

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