The Life Purpose of a Cabbage

Peonies burst open into shameless blooms.
Looking at their compact spherical buds,
it’s hard to imagine such an extravagant
unfurling.

The peony’s beauty is in the surprise
of its eventual fullness; its transfiguration
seems a metaphor worthy of our aspiration.

So as I chop a wedge from a cabbage,
I can’t help but notice its tightly packed
green leaves, no more liberated now
than they were in their balled-up state.

There is nothing remarkable
about the bits of cabbage, lying there
rigidly. It doesn’t seem to experience
any release when chopped apart.

Apparently cabbages are not meant
to open, like a flower, but to stay neatly
closed. And this reminds me of
something someone wrote about
blooming, once it becomes too painful
to remain a closed bud.

That’s all well and good for the peonies
of the world, but what about the cabbages?

What if we cabbages, ill-informed
(which is the worst sort) and anxious,
check the mirror every morning
for signs of imminent metamorphosis;
consult the daily horoscopes,
assess the slant of the sun in the sky,
leaning forward in anticipation
of some pending spontaneous blossoming,
some sort of personal glorious explosion
into all that we were ever meant to be?

When instead, we were meant
to stay tightly wound, neatly packed,
impressively dense, our beauty found
in our economy and reliable predictability,
heavy with all we have to offer,
a pale green from start to finish.

Claire Juno, © 2013

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