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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 6, Number 2, June 2012


Elizabeth Howard
Crossville, Tennessee, USA

Tomato Festival

Watching a tomato festival on TV, I think of farm chores. No festival in our tomato patch. Only heat, dust, sweat bees, tobacco worms, more loathsome to me than snakes. My limbs itched from an allergic rash, tomato plants caustic to my sensitive skin. However, there was a bonus—the plump delicious tomatoes.

a barefoot child
I feasted between the rows
chin dribbling
elbows dripping
toes stained red

The TV festival features food and games, but ends in a fight with overripe tomatoes. I know snowball fights, a delight at school in those primitive days when rural students were often allowed to devise their own recess activities—red rover, crack-the-whip, mumbly-peg. I know the sensation of being slapped upside the head with a ball of slush or ice. I know corncob fights that boys played in the barnyard, though I was too chicken to participate. I've seen their running battles, their abrasions. Heard the thunk of corncobs whacking ribs, the grunt of the bowed victim.

But tomatoes? I suppose we never thought of it—canned tomatoes too necessary for long winter days when the larder looked like Mother Hubbard's cupboard.

The festival grows wilder and wilder, all caution, all inhibitions, cast aside like old tomato vines.

a barefoot contessa
twirls feverishly
a red dynamo
squeezing juice
between her toes



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