Window Garden




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I am thrilled to have this poem appear in the book Dear Tomato: An International Crop of Food and Agriculture Poems, edited by Carol-Ann Hoyte. I love the collection. It includes a wonderful variety of poems and subjects and writers, and it’s a perfect size to hold in your hand.

I’ve lived in both New York City and Hong Kong where very few people can have backyard gardens. As I sat down to write a poem to submit to the anthology, I was thinking about the kids who live in cities like these. I didn’t want them to feel left out, to feel that a book about food and agriculture wouldn’t have something in it for them.

I was also remembering a Facebook post that a friend had put up when she was growing tomatoes in her window. How would she pollinate them, she wondered. I enjoyed seeing her pictures and the suggestions people made.

With these thoughts in mind, I sat down to write, and I imagined I was the child with no backyard but with a window and a tomato plant. I almost felt like an actor getting into character. Once I was in the  head of the child, and I was sitting next to my plant, I knew what I would say and what I would write.

I did want the poem to be scientifically accurate so I read about tomato pollination and learned that they don’t actually need bees. They are typically self-pollinating with a little help from the wind. However, I did also find that there was such a thing as too much scientific accuracy. For a long time, the poem read:

that spreads your pollen
from stamen to pistil.

I liked the idea of getting such great words in the poem but in the end I decided they interrupted the flow of the poem.

My favorite metaphors in the poem are the stars and the moons. I grow cherry tomatoes myself and I remember going out to look at them when I was writing and noticing that the flowers looked like stars. Stars naturally led to moons. Growing tomatoes naturally led to eating them. Eating the harvest naturally led to wanting to save some of the seeds for next year.

I hope you’ll take a look at the many other wonderful poems in the anthology. Renee at No Water River posted videos of four of the poets reading their work.

This was a big week for learning new things. I discovered it wasn’t too difficult to put words over an image in Word or to share sound through SoundCloud. You might want to give it a try. If I can do it, you can too.

For more Poetry Friday, visit Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong at Poetry for Children.

See you soon,


18 replies
  1. Martha O'Quinn
    Martha O'Quinn says:

    Elizabeth, I love, love your poem and congratulations. It flows so well that I felt the intimacy of your conversation with said tomato plant. I think stamen and pistil would have been too scientific and would crowd out the love shown in the poem.

  2. Michelle Heidenrich Barnes
    Michelle Heidenrich Barnes says:

    Love this poem, Liz… so worthy of being the title poem. 🙂 I also like how the book fits so well in my hand… AND in the classroom! Your presentation is beautiful, but the soundcloud emblem is appearing as a picture, not as a link. I hope you can fix it– I’d love to hear the poem in your own voice.

  3. Linda Baie
    Linda Baie says:

    Love hearing your voice, too, Liz. I guess I need to do a little more Soundcloud. I’ve only done it once so my students could see how easy it is. Congratutlons on your poem, another wonderful anthology to own! I too love those “small green moons”.

  4. Carmela Martino
    Carmela Martino says:

    Love your poem, Liz. When we first started growing tomatoes in pots on our patio, my brother told me about the trick of shaking the flowers to make sure they pollinate, but we have plenty of bees to take care of that. Our season is nearing its end, here, and I’m feeling sad that I won’t be eating any more homegrown tomatoes soon. I’ll have to come back to your poem when that time comes, to remember not only their wonderful taste, but the joy of growing the plants.

  5. Bridget Magee
    Bridget Magee says:

    I love that your poem inspired the title of the anthology. This poem was one of my favorites when I received my copy of the anthology in the mail and then when I saw it was written by you, I liked it even more. I agree the metaphors of the stars and the moons are fabulous. Thanks for the behind the scenes into this great poem, Liz!

  6. svardell
    svardell says:

    Hi, Liz, and thank you for joining our Poetry Friday gathering and congratulations on this wonderful poem– the TITLE poem of the book. I agree this is a wonderful anthology– full of gems!

  7. Heidi Mordhorst
    Heidi Mordhorst says:

    Niiiiice. We grow–besides herbs–one thing only, and that’s tomatoes. We had 3 kinds this year, sourced free from some neighborhood heirloomers, and it took us a month to realize that the one variety already WAS ripe when its bottom was a reddish purple and its top was still deep green. Always new things to learn….and thanks for reminding me to actually READ my copy of Dear Tomato….


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