Young poet;Poem;Sweet Tomatoes and Sun by Miranda Swift

4th June 1999 at 01:00
Sweet Tomatoes and Sun

Upturned flower pot: scattered seeds; the fresh scent of new tomato plants.

You, in green.

Hands grubby with the clean dirt of life.

The vegetable plot is ready for spring's new dwellers and you tuck them in for a season.

Yet you are not here.

You are no longer anywhere.

Gently smiling nurses who know more about you than I do, have taken you away. From sweet tomatoes and sun, to sterile ice-white sheets.

Now I venture through glass doors: pots upturned as left.

New red fruits emerge from the earth out of the ashes of your departure.

Miranda Swift

As with the most successful poems about the most emotive or emotional subjects, this one succeeds through its use of delicate understatement and the author channelling all emotion via the image. A clever use of the present tense at the beginning introduces the effective simplicity of the second stanza. It is very profound for the writer to move naturally from the concrete evidence of a life to the recognition that something is not just gone from one's own sight, but no longer exists at all, in any form. Finally, though, the author turns this notion around with the paradoxical image of departure - this kind of departure - causing regeneration. I also particularly like the extreme contrast in the images in the third stanza, of the "sweet tomatoesand sun, to sterileice-white sheets".

Eva Salzman

Miranda Swift, 16, receives 'Sounds Good 101 Poems to be Heard', edited by Christopher Reid (Faber). Submitted by Nicola Chadwick of King's School, Macclesfield, Cheshire, who receives a set of Poetry Society posters with teacher's notes. Please send students' poems, preferably no longer than 20 lines, to 'TES' Young Poet, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1 9XY. Eva Salzman is writer-in-residence at the Bromley-by-Bow Centre in east London. She has published two volumes of poetry: "Bargain with the Watchman" (Oxford University Press) and "The English Earthquake" (Bloodaxe)The TES Book of Young Poets (pound;9.99), a selection of poems from this column, with an introduction by Sian Hughes, can be ordered by phoning 01454617370. A set of posters is available for pound;3.99

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