Malinda Meadows

Cleaning Out the Refrigerator

The mouth of June is wide, petals of cream-peach roses
parachute down stone walls, and the radio wants to know
what have you made of yourself in the first half of the year?

I reach behind the bottle of Chablis, the half-used milk,
save the hard wedge of parmesan from the bottom shelf
of oblivion. I link my pinky around the neck of chicken
stock. A few days ago, this kale curled its leaves upward
like the skilled arch of a dancer’s back. Now flat exhaustion
creeps along its faded veins.

I’ve learned rarely, if ever, does the lemon let one down.
Still plump, still bright, still full of zest.

It’s a good time to check in
, the voice says on the airwaves.

On the windowsill, the allium family has sprouted new life.
I grab and grate the garlic, slice the onion into pinwheels.

I slide two pans onto the stove, stream in just the right amount
of olive oil, just like you showed me.
            Onions into one, add salt and let them soften into sweetness.
            I chiffonade and toss in the limp kale,
            that jug of leftover chicken stock, let it boil down.
In the other goes garlic and hot red pepper flakes,
my last can of white beans.

From the icebox, I take the crystallized bread,
wish for a second that it was fresh, that it was your recipe,
warm it up anyway & douse it with oil and butter.
Time to take stock of your progress in the last 185 days:
Are you, or are you not,

living up to your full potential?

I add the onion-kale mix to a burnt-orange plate,
still limp but mended with flavor,
then the garlicky beans,
top it all with flurries of parmesan,
and wonder if it is not enough to spend the days
trying to pair the living with the dead?

To finish, I take your lemon juicer —
vintage, I think they’d call it now —
squeeze what the lemon has to offer

Malinda Meadows

Malinda Meadows is a poet and writer based in Cork, Ireland. She co-founded the Late Night Diners, a dynamic, all-women, multigenerational poets’ collective, with the first anthology releasing in April 2024 with an 8-women collaborative poetry performance. She was recently published in the inaugural issue of the Four Faced Liar and performed her piece at the publication launch.