Tomato Piles by Me
Scout died in the spring and that
summer was the first summer
that tomatoes didn’t grow all over
the yard. I was twelve
I didn’t see the connection between
the death of our beloved German shepherd
runt, who understood English and
wore a bowtie in our family portrait,
and the random growths of
tomatoes splattered throughout our
For that matter, I didn’t understand
why my father always planted those
plants, why he didn’t
just keep the tomatoes in the
vegetable garden where they belonged.
The plants got in the way of everything—we
even used one of them for
third base one summer.
But when I asked my father about
the lack of tomatoes that summer,
he just grinned and
pointed to the small tin urn
that sat on the top
shelf of a bookshelf
in the living room.
“Scout,” he said through
his unshaven orange beard,
“loved to eat tomatoes.”
I knew that already—we all knew that.
The running joke was about
how Scout’s only flaw was that he
kept eating the tomatoes out of the
garden, no matter how
much chicken-wire we put up.
I'm sad to say that, while the dog was real, the story is not (though I've been tossing the idea around in my head for so long that it seems real to me, so maybe that counts). I actually heard the story while having lunch with a couple friends (Billy and Wilbur) and one of them looked at me and said "that sounds like a poem to me." And I agreed.
I really don't know if the point of the poem is clear, because I never explicityly state, "the tomato piles are from Scout's poop." I'm hoping I don't need to, but this is one of those things that is hard because obviously I know what I mean, but will the reader? Well... do you???