Poetry Sunday: September Tomatoes by Karina Borowicz

Pulling up those last tomato plants always seemed a bit sad to me. They were planted with so much hope and high expectations in the spring and nourished all through the long summer months, but now their "whiskey stink of rot has settled in the garden" and it is time for them to go to the compost pile.

I had never heard of Karina Borowicz but she is a prize-winning poet from Massachusetts and she must be a gardener because she understood so well the regret I feel about those last tomatoes of September when she wrote this poem back in 2013. 

That last verse about her great-grandmother and the girls of her village pulling flax may seem out of place, but I know what she means. Their actions seem to "turn the weather," change the seasons. Pulling out September tomatoes has the same meaning for us. And it worked; after all, in a few days it will be fall.

September Tomatoes

by Karina Borowicz

The whiskey stink of rot has settled
in the garden, and a burst of fruit flies rises 
when I touch the dying tomato plants. 

Still, the claws of tiny yellow blossoms
flail in the air as I pull the vines up by the roots 
and toss them in the compost. 

It feels cruel. Something in me isn’t ready
to let go of summer so easily. To destroy
what I’ve carefully cultivated all these months. 
Those pale flowers might still have time to fruit. 

My great-grandmother sang with the girls of her village 
as they pulled the flax. Songs so old
and so tied to the season that the very sound
seemed to turn the weather.


  1. You are right. She captured it and I love that last sentence. Did you sing while you pulled your plants?

    1. I don't usually sing when I'm outside because I'm always listening for birdsong, bees buzzing, or other sounds of Nature.

  2. Lovely! I love these two verses:

    "It feels cruel. Something in me isn’t ready
    to let go of summer so easily."

    I'm not ready either.

  3. Whiskey stink...yes, come to think about it. I love the comparison of the last tomato flowers to yellow claws. I never sing in the garden, but that's me (my flowers would desperately try to escape if I did sing, trust me on that.)

    1. LOL! I think my plants would probably revolt if I sang as well.


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