Garden Mysteries


Foundlings, wrapped in cotton,
cradled in a plastic shell,
left on a doorstep without a clue:
no names, no note, nothing at all.

“I can’t raise these,”
my sister said.
“You take them.”

Mystery seedlings.
I recognized tomatoes,
guessed at peppers,
planted them in my garden,
hoping for the best or, at least,
for something. .

Watered, caged, watched tomatoes grow,
setting on big fruits,
some round, some lobed, tripartite,
bright green shading darker through July,
a soft, hazy red creeping up from the bottom.

Most potted pepper plants produce jalapeños,
first green and growing, then red,
then poppers stuffed with goodness.
sweet hot from the oven.

A single pepper plant produces nothing
but branches and bushes through July,
finally flowering in August.

My foundling tomatoes hang heavy on their vines,
still green and red, not changing color any longer.
Brown scars mark where they have almost split.
I lift a big tomato gently, bounce it in my hand:
soft and heavy. Maybe
this is ripe?

Taking a chance, I cut it from the vine,
wash it, cut the lobes apart, remove the stem, and taste:
so sweet!
Essence of tomato, in
a nameless, orphan heirloom.

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