Who beside my mother knew
a cabbage stalk stripped of its leafage
contains more goodness than mere garbage?
Her quick sure knife would pare away
the fibrous husk, rough with leaf-stumps,
slice off the watery rootward end,
and bring to light a white, damp cone –
Raw, this secret tidbit dipped in salt
would crunch up sweetly pungent,
more tenderly succulent than turnip.
She always gave the cabbage-heart to us,
splitting it lengthwise to fairshare
its flavours if more than one of us were near.
To my sisters and me this chewy nugget
was nothing much – by-product of cooking
routinely salvaged and eaten
not to waste.
Almost discarded memory – I strip it and retrieve
so late a faintly bitter spike of realisation:
how she would have relished the cabbage-hearts
she always gave to us.
by Lionel Abrahams
PIW, © 2004