Wedding Night: We Share an Heirloom Tomato on Our Hotel Balcony Overlooking the Ocean in Which Natalie Wood Drowned

for David

We imagine Natalie held a gelatinous green 
sliver on her tongue, that its watery 

disk caught the lamplight before 
she slipped from her yacht 

to drown in the waves off this island. This was
thirty years ago. And our tomato’s strain 

stretches back decades, to an heirloom seed 
saved before either of us was born, 

before Natalie’s elbow 
brushed the clouded jade 

face of the ancestral fruit
in a Catalina stand, before she handed it

to her husband, saying, This one. We hover
near the plate, where the last 

half of our shadowed tomato 
sits in its skin’s deep pleats. I lean 

toward you to trace each 
salted crease with a thumbnail—

brined and wild as those lines 
clawed in the green 

side of the yacht’s 
rubber dinghy. Those lingering 

shapes the coroner found—the drowned 
actress’s scratch marks. That night

we first met, I had another lover 
but you didn’t 

care. My Bellini’s peach puree, 
our waiter said, had sailed across 

the Atlantic, from France. It swirled 
as I sipped and sank 

to the glass bottom 
of my champagne flute. You whispered, 

Guilt is the most
useless emotion. After Natalie rolled 

into the waves, the wet feathers
of her down coat wrapped 

their white anchors 
at her hips. This was 1981. I turned 

a year old that month and somewhere 
an heirloom seed 

washed up. You felt an odd breeze 
knock at your elbow as I took

my first step. We hadn’t yet met. 
Tonight, we watch the wet date palms tip 

toward the surf and, curling,
swallow their tongues.

Copyright © 2013 by Anna Journey. From Vulgar Remedies (Louisiana State University Press, 2013). Used with permission of the author.