The Flying Tomato

The flying tomato brothers, as the owners

of Garcia’s Pizza liked to be known,

sometimes swung over town in their

hot air balloon, made to resemble

an immense tomato.  We’d hear

the burner’s on-off-on and run

outside to witness a rogue heavenly body

transiting our patch of sky.

On Coler Avenue skateboards slowed

and neighbors holding garden hoses paused

when it appeared, tracking its legato

flight, until the day it came

right for us, dipping so low we feared

a crash.  The tomato brothers—

in goggles and black flying leathers—

saluted from their basket and narrowly

missed a tree, while the balloon, 

a monstrous bulge of breathing silk, 

pulsed rowboat-sized green leaves.

Forty feet over our patio barbecue

it drifted alien as a clown, for a few moments

silent, then issued the breathy snarl

of a Noh play demon, who—

when the hero’s back is turned—

sticks out its crimson tongue and raises

menacing claws.  We stood struck dumb,

honoring the improbable in our domain,

waving to the brothers who fed fire

into its belly, until it flew away,

tugging its shadow like a spot of ill omen

over the corn rows beyond the edge of town.


       Karie Friedman

       From The Naugatuck River Review, Winter 2010