Peace is a Tomato

Today Bjorn is Pubtender and has poetics at dVerse. He wants us to “write about peace without making it trite, too sweet, or just against the horrors of wars. He wants us to capture how much pain and work it takes. But maybe also how big the reward is”. Come visit and at this time of the season, read some poems about Peace.

copyright kanzensakura

copyright kanzensakura

Peace is a Tomato
Like my mother taught me I prepared the soil
and when the oak leaves in spring are the size of a squirrel’s ear,
I take the tender seedlings and gently put them
into the holes dug at 24 inch intervals and pull
the soil around the stems and using my hands
push the soil down around tight – soil too loose
will cause the roots to rot. The soil must be

Through the months weeding, adding nourishment
driving in tall stakes and lifting the
now full and looped branches of the plant
tie with cloth strips over under around and
finish tying up to the stakes – supporting
the branches full of bright yellow blooms and
tiny green gonna be tomatoes.

And when the sun is hot and almost unbearable
the large green tomatoes begin to turn red.
You can stand beside the plant after a rain shower and smell
the bright green of the plant and the red tomato
beginning to ripen. On the I go to the garden
and find more red ripe tomatoes than I can deal with at the time.
I gently cup each tomato in my hand pull – ever so delicately.
The tomato comes loose in my hand and I begin to pile them up
in light split wood baskets waiting in my red Radio Flyer –
up and down our quiet road I go from house to house sharing out
tomatoes. All want at least two and some want more
and my neighbors smile and smell the tomatoes
and hold the baby soft warm tomatoes to their cheeks.

And I still have more tomatoes!
More baskets are piled full and I
drive to our local Food Bank and ask if
they can be used? And the workers smile
in delight and one woman grabs two – I know the person
who is going to get these tonight with her Meals on Wheels supper.
The tomatoes will be turned into salads, into soup, into
marinara sauce – happy tomatoes making food cooked with care.

I go with the volunteer to help deliver those
two special tomatoes.
The old lady is tiny and her hands are knotted
and oh how she smiles when she sees Karin
at her door with her nightly meal!
Karin and I go into the tiny senior residence
and Karin says, Mrs. Pearl, I have a surprise just for you.
This surprise has been waiting since April for you.
She holds out the tomatoes.
Mrs. Pearl looks at them with tears in her eyes.
She takes them as if afraid they will disappear
and then she holds them up to her lips
kissing them as if they were a long lost child.
Just for me?
I haven’t had tomatoes like this in years
and she tells us how she used to love her garden.
We get back into the car and I cry like a baby.
It is hard to feel peace when your stomach is empty.
It is hard to feel peace when your soul is hungry.
Peace is a tomato.

30 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Sarah
    Dec 08, 2015 @ 05:33:38

    Your poems are always so beautiful. This one brought a tear to my eyes. Bless you.


  2. Mary
    Dec 08, 2015 @ 08:54:23

    What a touching story. Sometimes it is amazing what small things in life can make another person very happy. Yes, ‘peace is a tomato’ indeed!


    • kanzensakura
      Dec 08, 2015 @ 16:00:28

      Maybe instead of arguing and fussing, we should just hand each other flowers out of our yard or a tomato. It’s hard to be angry when someone gives you something so freely.


  3. writersdream9
    Dec 08, 2015 @ 09:22:02

    Your tale has really touched me. Yes, peace is a tomato!


  4. Björn Rudberg (brudberg)
    Dec 08, 2015 @ 15:09:41

    This is so much true.. the joy in sharing is what peace can be all about. It’s the giving and receiving.. You wrote this with such gentle hands.. and yes peace can be a tomato… it could be what the tomato is all about.


    • kanzensakura
      Dec 08, 2015 @ 15:28:43

      It could. and you can make sure, until frost, that dear lady had her tomatoes. I always have so many that I can for us and make salsa from. And the squashes this year went crazy so many of them made their way to the food bank’s kitchen. I like that they accept fresh produce and cook it for the people they feed. I have a friend who gives out her homemade Christmas cookies to the emergency personnel and law officers and….to the homeless shelters. What an act of grace to share home made cookies with those who no longer have a home.


  5. Glenn Buttkus
    Dec 08, 2015 @ 17:08:10

    My wife is a tomato princess, grow 7 plants each year. Here in WA state tomatoes & poets thrive. In late summer, she acts out your story, neighbors, family & friends, even the local food bank. Your last lines are killer–yes, tomatoes are peace, indeed.


    • kanzensakura
      Dec 08, 2015 @ 19:00:18

      Tomatoes seem to thrive any place they are planted and nourished. I usually plant about 18 plants along with cukes, squashes, lettuces, onions, green beans and herbs. I can, freeze, pickle, make salsas and always share. The food bank got a new director this year allowing them to accept fresh contributions for their kitchen. It felt good to share with them through the summer. Giving peace is much better than arguing about. And selfishly, it makes me happy. Knowing families, children, elderly are getting good fresh food is an indescribable feeling of peace.


  6. Grace
    Dec 08, 2015 @ 17:19:11

    I love the concrete example of planting, nourishing the tomato plant, then sharing the fruits of it with people around you ~ You have a big heart to share them specially with those at Food Bank and at the seniors home ~ Enjoyed this one Toni ~


  7. Victoria C. Slotto
    Dec 08, 2015 @ 17:20:56

    Oh, girl, you nailed the prompt. Such a perfect metaphorical write. My husband is the tomato king…he is definitely a nurturer. He starts the seeds in the desert in March, carefully transports them back home then slowly introduces them to our cooler climate in May. It is a work of art…as is peace.


  8. Sanaa Rizvi
    Dec 08, 2015 @ 17:21:10

    This is absolutely beautiful! Indeed.. we can not be at peace if the soul is at unease. Beautifully rendered 🙂

    Lots of love,


  9. Maggie
    Dec 08, 2015 @ 17:47:59



  10. voiceless2010
    Dec 08, 2015 @ 23:36:11

    A beautiful poem. I have similar associations with tomatoes. 🙂


  11. lynn__
    Dec 09, 2015 @ 00:57:15

    A wonderful plan for peace, Toni! If we’d all be busy in our gardens and then share the produce…who knows?!


  12. MarinaSofia
    Dec 09, 2015 @ 11:41:28

    What a beautiful extended metaphor! I just love, love, love the smell of tomatoes freshly plucked from the vine – and completely concur with you that sharing that bounty would make better companions of us all. Food is the ice-breaker I always recommend in intercultural situations: we all eat and we all like to share recipes, ideas about which foods we eat and why etc.


    • kanzensakura
      Dec 09, 2015 @ 14:40:40

      A d this is true. It is hard to be angry at someone who freely gives you something beautiful and perfect – to feed your soul through your eyes and to also feed your tummy!


  13. Linda Kruschke
    Dec 09, 2015 @ 15:55:14

    This is beautiful and lovely and peaceful. It didn’t go where I expected. I felt so peaceful just spending time with you in the garden that I thought that was going to be the main gist. Then you hit us with that tear jerker at the end. Peace is indeed a tomato. Peace, Linda


  14. seingraham
    Dec 09, 2015 @ 16:01:26

    How beautifully you’ve explained how peace is a tomato – this brought me to tears (in a good way) … I love it more than I can adequately express. Peace.


  15. Bodhirose
    Dec 09, 2015 @ 22:28:28

    I love this, Toni, a sensitive and sweet story. In this, I sense peace…and happiness in sharing with our neighbors. Somehow I was reminded of a well known photo of the 60s where some “hippies” were protesting the war and there were armed police surrounding them and one of the protesters took flowers and put them in the barrels of the weapons. Do you remember that photo? Peace through tomatoes, hey, I could get on board with that!


    • kanzensakura
      Dec 09, 2015 @ 22:36:38

      I do indeed remember that. Exchange flowers not bullets. Give tomatoes, make friends not enemies. I think peace has to begin in the hearts of individuals. If we can’t come to peace in our hearts, how can we have peace in the world?


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