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Inspired by Tomatoes
Barbara Quick


All hail the courage of the tomato seed
that, finding itself in darkness and dirt,
answers the call of water and sunlight—
and swells inside the dry prison
in which its own potential was waiting. 

Sending roots down to anchor its flight.
Rising up with its first two leaves clasped,
as in prayer, pinned at the tips
by the shell of the seed that seems not to want
to let go—till the joined first leaves make a final push
up and then out, tracing an arc
against the resistance of air.

The shell holds on to one of the leaves
like an unwanted ornament till its grip gives way.
Another day’s sun coaxes the first true leaves
from the tip of the stem: serrations and vegetable hair
redolent of the sweet-acid scent that heralds the fruit—
Fruit that will be filled with fragrant and gelid seeds
that will dry out and shrink and wait
until they too are called to dare and rise up
and become who they are.


© by Barbara Quick.
Used with the author’s permission.



Barbara Quick is a novelist, journalist and poet. The author of seven books, her newly assembled poetry collection, Fanny Mendelssohn Catches a Glimpse of the Future, was a semi-finalist for last year's Washington Prize and her novel, Vivaldi's Virgins (HarperCollins, 2007), has been translated into 15 languages. Barbara lives on a small farm in Sonoma County, California with her husband, a vigneron and violist for the San Francisco Symphony. An avid dancer, runner and student of yoga, Barbara divides her time between writing and tending to her edible gardens. Learn more about her at




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