The Tower Journal

Fiona Marshall

A Special Fruit

I wanted the red plum tomato with the bitter green patch—
I knew its taste would change
And delight.
I envisioned it sliced upon crackers with cheese.

But instead I took one, plain and scarlet,
Remembering the oldest should be eaten first,
And ate it alone with salt.

I would share the variegated one with others.
It was only fair.

But by weekend no one had wanted tomatoes,
Preferring fries and meat and such
And my special fruit had ripened,
Time changed into old and ugly and plain,
Like we all are in the end.

The others could not conceive of my disappointment,
The loss of this unusual, transient treat,
And when I further pressed my description, to help them better understand,
Only shrugged and exclaimed,
“It’s just a tomato!”

And so I visited the grocery store once more,
Dug through that pile of plum tomatoes,
Red upon red,
Until I found one, almost the same,
And brought it home like a prize.

Immediately in the quiet and empty house, it was prepared,
Sliced, and arranged upon hot buttered toast.
Crowned with brie, sea salt, and cracked black pepper.
Set upon my favorite plate.
And eaten in but a minute.

The Smile of a Stranger

I walk alone at night
In the cold.
My hands thrust deep in my pockets.
It’s a lonely world,
And I hear only the sound of my boots
In the freshly fallen snow.

Why is it all except myself
Are warm?
And in bed asleep?

The streets are deserted—
Post-apocalyptical scenes
Of signs swinging in the wind,
Wrappers blowing across the parking lot,
Meteorite snowflakes falling
From an otherwise black and empty sky.

Rounding a corner, I see a man,
Walking toward me along the same path.
Too late to turn around
Or go a different way.

As he nears, I feel my fingers clutch around keys
But glance up anyway, politeness ingrained in me
Like childhood dirt from
Too much playing in the fields.

His eyes meet mine momentarily.
He smiles. “Hello.”
My own voice reciprocates and we pass without pause,
Carrying on our separate ways.

Soft voice, kind eyes.
Too wrapped up in hat and scarf, darkness and milliseconds
To glean any other detail.
My hand unclenches; inside, I relax.
Another wanderer looking for an answer, seeking “the truth.”
Or perhaps he just ran out of milk.

Inexplicably, a small candle lights in a dark room
In the house that I am passing.
Now, at last, I am tired.
I will go home and sleep well tonight.

Perceptions of the Altar

My grandmother went to church,
It was what respectable people did
Back then in the ’30s.
A suit for him, best coat for her,
And a hat, of course,
To show respect. Compliance.

Salmon on Good Friday,
Midnight Mass Christmas Eve.

Supplication, devotion, divinity,
Purity, Praise.
Words. Duty.
A sense of belonging,
To the better set,
The chosen ones.

Their child, conceived
Without protection,
The months of holding him inside—
Assumed perfection only a womb could hide.

De-robed he was a twisted betrayal
Of all the Sundays up at eight.
Would never be wholly, capable.
He died at six, before his first
Holy, Communion.

Infected Chalice, passed in whispers,
Love and pity for the Son.
The Almighty burden of Faith.

She faced the world with blemishes,
Stigmata, ill-concealed.
Cup of hallowed devotion, hollowed.
Cast aside.

My grandmother dyed her hair.
Black, she said, to match the inside.

Copyright © 2014 Fiona Marshall
Fiona MarshallFiona Marshall lives in a remote rural community in Northern Alberta, Canada, with her husband and two sons.
‘For six months of the year it’s a frozen wilderness, like living in Narnia’ she says, ‘but spring and summer are usually glorious-it’s a place of extremes, and it suits me’.

When she is not writing, she is either working, as an Ultrasound Technician, or out in the surrounding countryside, finding nature both calming and inspirational.

She has been previously published in Crack the Spine, Mezzo Cammin and Every Day Poems-an online series from ‘Every Writers Resource.’

The Tower Journal
Spring/Summer 2014