My friends invited me to mind their garden this summer,
while they traveled abroad.
I’ve never had so many peas.
Week after week,
the green pods dangling
near-hidden among the vines,
it has been a guilty bounty.
Today there was another shooting,
as homegrown as this garden,
I am outraged, despairing,
mourning for those in Texas.
In the garden this afternoon,
surrounded by trees reaching heavenward,
tomatoes appeared for the first time.
Ripened by the sun,
warm to my touch,
they smelled like my grandfather’s garden,
fresh dirt and fruited acidity blending together,
harkening back to long-ago summers,
interwoven with evening bike rides and
anytime ice cream,
with air-conditioned naps and darkened living rooms,
shades pulled tight against the midday sun.
That childhood, mine, was in Texas too.
How many tomatoes did I eat, as today,
straight from the plant?
How many did I leave behind?
My friends would do well to stay overseas.
It will be all of us, someday,
killed by these white men with
only for war,
only for a violent kill,
only for humans hunting other humans in
a school, a theater, a church, a shopping center, a synagogue, a hospital, a concert.
Peas, tomatoes, memories tied to childhood hopes
they are useless shields
against what we have become.