Grammy used to cry over tomatoes
When she held them in her hand
To admire. She’d wheel her chair
To the sink, shuffling along.
She wasn’t paralyzed.
Her old bones just couldn’t carry
Her weight anymore though she was tiny-thin,
Tiny boned. Her two feet shuffling
Along the wood floor. The tiny whirling of wheels.
When I was little, she’d lift me up to dance.
And then I lifted her. She’d wrap her legs around me
As I swung her around the kitchen floor
Before setting her back down to hard wood and chairs that roll.
She would tell me to roll with things. After one hundred years
You have to find beauty in growth, in the sweet redness of ripe fruit,
In just hearing music even if you can’t dance yourself.
Her tears would come silently down her cheeks.
With one trembling hand she would wipe them
away, angry at their betrayal. Her hand was harsh
Against her skin.
“Ma, be gentle,” Dad would say.
“What does it matter anymore?” She would carefully wash
The tomato, cooing to it, ridding it of dirt that I never saw.
“Why are you crying, Ma?” Dad made big eyes at me.
We both knew what she’d say.
“It’s just so beautiful.” Her voice cracked.
“It’s so perfect. So unblemished. Look at the skin.”
Emotion moved her shoulders up and down.
We left our chairs at the table to get up to comfort her.
That same hand that wiped her cheeks gestured
Us away. She took a dish towel and folded it
In thirds. One word whispered out into air.