…the tomato invades the kitchen…

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 Ode to the Tomato – Pablo Neruta

(translated by Margaret Sayers Peden)

The street filled with tomatoes
midday,
summer,
light is halved like a tomato,
its juice runs through the streets.
In December, unabated, the tomato invades the kitchen,
it enters at lunchtime,
takes its ease on counter tops,
among glasses, butter dishes, blue saltcellars.
It sheds its own light,
benign majesty.

Unfortunately, we must murder it:
the knife sinks into living flesh,
red viscera,
a cool sun, profound, inexhaustible,
populates the salads of Chile,
happily, it is wed to the clear onion,
and to celebrate the union we pour oil,
essential child of the olive,
onto its halved hemispheres,
pepper adds its fragrance,
salt, its magnetism;
it is the wedding of the day,
parsley hoists its flag,
potatoes bubble vigorously,
the aroma of the roast knocks at the door,
it’s time!
come on!
and, on the table, at the midpoint of summer,
the tomato, star of earth,
recurrent and fertile star,
displays its convolutions,
its canals,
its remarkable amplitude and abundance,
no pit,
no husk,
no leaves or thorns,
the tomato offers its gift of fiery color
and cool completeness.

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