Behind his shed, Poppa kept a garden where we grew the best cantaloupe in town, corn so sweet and the biggest, blood red tomatoes you ever saw.

One July, he picked all of his tomatoes, sold them to a local market for $2 a pound, brought the rest to us in a cardboard box that bowed in the middle from the weight. They were softball sized, others as big as his cantaloupe. He believed in the magic of his farm’s top soil, how investing a little time could make all the difference.

The next day, he was back in, preparing the earth for new plants, plucking weeds, when a sharp pain caught  in his left shoulder. As he struggled to breathe, his knees collapsed into the dirt.

A week later, I came home to the cardboard box. A single, heart shaped tomato was waiting. It had over ripened, sitting in a puddle where it had begun to soften and mold.

I could have thrown it away but I didn’t.


Jenny Billings Beaver has been writing poetry since elementary school and was first published in her local newspaper in the sixth grade. She received her BA in English from Wake Forest University and her MFA in creative writing (in poetry) from Queens University of Charlotte. A native North Carolinian, Jenny lives in Charlotte with her newlywed husband, Justin and Shih Tzu, Tola. Formerly teaching high school English, she now works as an English Adjunct Professor at Rowan Cabarrus Community College and as a freelance writer for the Charlotte Observer.


  1. […] Appeared in Sliver of Stone, April 2012 Share this:FacebookEmailLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. […]

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