My mother didn’t drive a car and so
my father would leave her money for the week,
and she’d have to walk for groceries and couldn’t always manage,
but if an unexpected visitor dropped in
she always had tomatoes.
These would be fried and put on toast with cream sauce on top.
We always had milk and flour. Sometimes
Uncle Freddie came by on his bicycle after delivering
things people ordered from stores, carried in his bike basket.
He was fifteen and saving money to be a lawyer.
He wore a tweed cap and woolen knickers.
Uncle Freddie died last week at a hundred and one.
If my mother was surprised by her brother,
she would fry up some tomatoes.
When I walked home from school for lunch
and she served them I knew she wasn’t able
to walk up to the store.
And today when I opened the refrigerator
after two weeks away, and just out of bed with the flu,
I saw two fat tomatoes alone on the shelf.
I always have tomatoes.
So, I’ll slice them in olive oil and salt until slightly burned on the edges
then scoop everything on two pieces of toast and
if I close my eyes, I’ll see a yellow kitchen
with squares of sun on the linoleum floor,
and my uncle, one last time grabbing his hat, and running out the door.
Grace Cavalieri (Anne Arundel County, MD) is Maryland's tenth poet laureate. She founded and still produces "The Poet and the Poem" for public radio, celebrating 43 years on-air. Her forthcoming book (2020) is What The Psychic Said.
These poems were recognized at the 2019 WFD Poetry Competition