The tomato plant is like a seven-story city hewn from the rock of the desert. It weeps. It volunteered. I hate tomatoes and the way the plant smells but it is alive so I let it be. And so it towers haggard over other better December vegetables, its top blacked by the first frost despite my bed sheet. Either nobody wants me or they want me to save them and believe I can. This seems to be history. Or math: mantissa, L. makeweight, part of an algorithm of little or no importance. Sad. It works that way. They get me to pull myself up like a weed via my wish to be loved. Undone, I volunteer. I'm forced like the bulbs on stones in a bowl in the middle of some vast and cold expanse of perfect polished dining room table, gloss and winter in the kind of house I’ll never live in and no kin, no kind of house will I ever own, who turns on the water heater only when I want a bath which is seldom since in the kitchen where I live when not asleep it is 58 degrees which is what I can afford so I have to move again when I don’t have any more roots to lose and am blackened too by Just What Happens. If only a horse would come to my door. Warm body, wet nose, white breath curved against my face in wet night air, I would climb its seven-story back and press my face into its coarse horse-smell mane and holding on be-with forever, all over the earth, in its green places until a car hit us or old age or a broken leg at the cottonwood fallen by the stream where not the speckled trout cold and deep nor the shadow that startled it into sleeking but the wolf that cast the shadow scared this horse and me and then I would love this wolf as I could never love a car and lie on the ground and believe the ground volunteered itself for me and I would love the smell of the earth in my belief the scratch of grass pressed hard to my face in my belief and abide, remain, stay forever inside my body in my belief where I fell to earth a refugee from a seven-story life I could not make green a volunteer myself for its stone, its sand, or ruin.
First published in The Journal. Copyright © 2009 by Liz Waldner. Used by permission of the author. All rights reserved.