Just beyond the fence, a doe peers at a ripe tomato. October. She’s not hungry. Perhaps she knows she will be. All the leaves and grasses dried to a sere, crackling parchment, it must look as succulent to her as it does to me, that perfect red tomato. I speak, but she will not go. She stands imperturbably and fears not the man I am, a garden hoe in my hand. I could probe through a diamond in the chain-link and nudge her out of her longing stupor, but instead I pick a pink ripening Roma and extend it through another diamond. She smells it, its camphor stink of tomato leaves, the scent of me. This is the moment I will never forget: against my finger, her breath, as she takes it and mouths it down. Juice from it falls to the ground, and her eyes go from deep brown to electric and ablaze. It may be she’s so amazed she will come back tomorrow to wait for her tomato, and for me to give it to her, except that it’s October, and nights are turning colder, and soon some buck will hold her [End Page 50] as part of his instinctive herd. He’ll cover her, as we say, so it’s just as likely today will be our last encounter. Then the snows of November, December, January, and long past February into March, even April. And yet it is possible, I’ll see her again in June with a pair of spotted fawns, awaiting what she does not know is, somehow, a tomato. [End Page 51]
Robert Wrigley has published ten books of poems, including, most recently, Anatomy of Melancholy and Other Poems (2013) and, in the United Kingdom, The Church of Omnivorous Light: Selected Poems (2013). He teaches at the University of Idaho and lives in the woods near Moscow with his wife, the writer Kim Barnes.