red tomato beside green and orange round fruit

Poetry No. 67 – Joanna Cleary

The Downfall of Tomatoes

by Joanna Cleary

They once knew fame:
tomatls, pommes d’amour,
ornamentals sought only
for their beauty. 16th century
colonized nightshade—pretty
despite the poison. Catherine
de’ Medici, aged fourteen,
pressed one to her lips
the morning of her wedding
(practice). Never would she
have guessed that they
would come to be replaced
by avocado on toast.
What are we to do, now
that the age of tomatoes
has past? What are we to eat
in the final era, before we 
once again return to dust?

Somewhere, a mother
places seeds in her child’s
outstretched hand. Here,
she instructs gently. Plant.
Their garden will keep
winter away for a little bit
longer, or at least we’d like
to think so. We rejoice
in these ordinary miracles:
the tomatoes will remain,
quietly, among other plants
and, breaking our fast,
day after day, for as long
as we still can, so will we. 


Joanna Cleary (she/her) is an emerging queer artist and recent graduate of the University of Waterloo. Her work has previously appeared or is forthcoming in The /tƐmz/ Review, The Hunger, Gordon Square Review, Always Crashing, Apricity Press, Typehouse Magazine, Juke Joint, and Funicular, among others. She writes about queerness, the body, and now apparently tomatoes. Follow her on Instagram @joannacleary121.

Photo by Cup of Couple on

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