I ... entered the poem of life, whose purpose is ... simply to witness the beauties of the world, to discover the many forms that love can take. (Barabara Blackman in 'Glass After Glass')

These poems are works in progress and may be updated without notice. Nevertheless copyright applies to all writings here and all photos (which are either my own or used with permission). Thank you for your comments. I read and appreciate them all, and reply here to specific points that seem to need it — or as I have the leisure. Otherwise I reciprocate by reading and commenting on your blog posts as much as possible.

4 April 2014

That Smell

That smell when I opened the cupboard tonight
linked me back to my past and my further past.
I am a young mother in her kitchen.
I am a child in my own mother's kitchen.
I was making myself a cup of cocoa
to take with me to my bed, to help me sleep.

The night was fading at last from hot to warm.
The cupboard released aromas: tea, coffee,
sugar, and the cocoa's chocolatey waft.
It was all subtle. You could include paper —
that fine, fresh scent of clean paper, barely there.
All of these scents together were faint and light.

But they were enough. Enough to connect me
back to selves who I used to be. The same food —
no, the same drink — unchanged through generations
of my family, and other families 
in English-speaking homes where cocoa is drunk,
throughout the world, becomes link, becomes message. 

Or where tea is drunk, or coffee. Where there is 
a cupboard, kitchen cupboard, with wooden doors.
Some household where all the habits, all the smells
combine in a continuous way of life;
and cocoa made with milk and drunk with sugar
is what you have at bedtime to help you sleep.

A message from the past, from my ancestors!
And from my past selves to the me I am now.
It is a good message. It has no content 
except itself, its existence. The message 
is the message. "Continuity," it says, 
and, "Lineage". And it seems to say, "Comfort".

April 2014 PAD Challenge, day 3: a message poem


  1. Ah! Smells are immediate connectors to our memory.

  2. I couldn't find your poem on PAD so I found it here! The smell of hot cocoa ALWAYS takes us back to winter snow shoveling and snow-man building when the kids were small - thanks for the trip back!

    1. Thanks, Barbara. I am posting on PAD, but it is very hard to find people, with so many contributors this time!