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July 1998

I used to sit and watch tomatos grow.
The nuns would say "Where is that foolish child?"
No one betrayed me. No one said "The garden"
So I was safe. The sisters would have smiled

at the betrayal. "What garden?" The very notion
was absurd, amid the concrete. They'd sooner believe
I was on Mars, or adrift in the Indian Ocean.

A dirt patch, really: cursing the waning light 
of another lifeless-day, I gazed
with sunlamp radiance, benevolent patience 
at my secret tomatos, unfazed

by the danger of discovery,
oblivious to the need to eat -- 
not wanting friends, just the feel
of cold, clammy soil on my hands and feet.

It came in the mail, the box of seeds.
I was supposed to sell them and win
a bike or some other childhood wonder.
Keeping them would be a sin.

It would be stealing. I did not care.
The time had come for me to have a vice.
Something mine. Something precious. It seemed
that growing illicit tomatos would suffice.

As a man, I am embarrassed to say
how naive the boy was, how willing
to believe, when the radio said tomatos
had struck in Kansas and Oklahoma, killing

dozens, that I could have such power.
A seven year old can plant seeds
and wait as long as it takes, nurturing,
watering, clearing away the weeds -- 

Racing through lessons in school,
scratching his groin at Sunday mass
trusting no one to tell, no one to care
about his lethal plants, fragile as glass.

Back to the July 1998 Issue of Body Positive Magazine.

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This article was provided by Body Positive. It is a part of the publication Body Positive.