Never wasteful, you kept each cabbage’s heart.
we sliced thinly with our sharpest knives before rubbing
them with salt & weighting them in my grandmother’s
crocks. You had found them in the basement when we
moved in, thrilled by their stability & heft.
for the kraut to lose its water into the brine & ferment
& then roast pork in it on New Year’s Day for good luck.
It’s hard with the other brassica, throwing away the stems
of Brussels sprouts, pulling the leaves & cutting the hard core
Their parts too tough. But you insisted
that we keep the hearts to pickle. Something fresh for the winter,
you’d say, even though the last thing I wanted
was to pull cold white cabbage from vinegar like bones,
unable to confuse their coolness for freshness,
even as we tried to ignore their salt-induced stasis.
Breaking our habits, I slice the cabbage on the mandolin,
uncertain the cuts are right.
I can’t bear to keep the hearts.
It seems like so much work. I throw them in the compost
pile & when I dig a shovel in to turn the dirt, they poke
out, un-decomposed, skeletal.
When I check the crocks, scum
has overtaken the lot. I try to skim it off the top but, when it
returns, I abandon the whole of it.