Red Rose Tomatoes

My grandmother taught me secrets: how to 


the skin off a tomato, how to crush herbs 

in the palms off my hands, forcing them to fly.

Her back curved and bent over the old dented stove. She 

whispered recipes like spells as I 


them back as mantras

grasping my soft, white palms with her wrinkled brown fingers

long and thin. Her golden rings flashing in the 

window filtered sunlight. She 


off orders, threatened hexes, 

while her wooden spoon stirred and mixed her mother’s cast iron. The 

family cauldron


My mother practiced magic: incantations 

in the backyard, she 


day-lilies and gathered Iris, covering the house 

in vibrant blooms, sparkling against the wooden window 

sills cracked with chipped paint. She 


flower petals across our tiny kitchen. A forest enchantress


wonder for her tiny supplicants. We plucked peppers


in the dusky sunset and slurped spaghetti at supper. The corners of 

our mouths bloomed red roses from the acidic tomatoes she had

called in from the vines, speckled with soil from her garden

watered by her blood and tears.



Talia Borochaner currently teaches High School English Literature and Writing in the Greater Philadelphia area.  She has a B.A in English Literature from Arcadia University and a M.S.Ed from the University of Pennsylvania. She is a third generation Italian-American. Her great-grandmother emigrated from Messina, Sicily to Philadelphia. The female Italian-American experience has been very influential in her life and writing.