This week’s poem, Jodi Paloni’s “Winter Kale,” invites us to contemplate a wintered-over cruciferous green and all it might mean to us in the cold months. I love this poem’s luminous imagery and its sensitivity to the human need for “meaning,” “mystery” and “revolution” as we navigate the seasons of the year and of our lives.

Paloni is the author of “They Could Live With Themselves,” runner-up for the Press 53 Award for Short Fiction, an IPPY Silver Medalist and a finalist for the Maine Book Awards. Her short works appear in Décor Maine, Art New England, Green Mountains Review, Carve Magazine, and many other venues. She lives and writes in Pemaquid.

Winter Kale
By Jodi Paloni

Kale, still here when the land rolls out
paper white from days of soporific snowfall
in a January garden, is just that, only kale.
But we want meaning, how ink-green leaves
fall like dreadlocks on their soldier stalks
as if they remember something we’ve forgotten,
as if they are forming a revolution against
weak blood and cancerous cells in the marrow,
if only we’d tromp through drifts up to the knees
to yank vitamin mineral remnants of summer,
fling kale into blenders and skillets, consume.

We think that maybe surviving vegetation
marks the white page of our yard to tempt us
towards hope, which it does, time and again,
but we know there is no apocalypse, no savior,
only birth and death, a body curled
on a new mother’s chest, or on a pine floor
in a sun square where we lie down and weep
for the too young suddenly gone missing.
Meanwhile, light from the west brow
of a hill glows up the pallor of beech trees,
the hemlock shining crowns of cut jade
and windchimes on the porch sparkle
tinny winkles of sound to soften the silence.

We used to think that gold winter dusk light
came from a low-slung sun, that music chimed
in from the winds, and now we want angels.
In this way we are invited to mystery,
to revolution, or merely to the possibility
of standing tall inside the darkness
like winter kale throwing down
a gauntlet to the blighted hours.

Megan Grumbling is a poet and writer who lives in Portland. Deep Water: Maine Poems is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. “Winter Kale,” copyright 2022 by Jodi Paloni, appears by permission of the author.

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