Monday, February 3, 2014

On a boat headed North down the waters of Leathe

Three generations of women in my family
had embraced oblivion
before my mother lost her sense of smell.

Let me tell you something
about the process of forgetting:

it starts
with car keys
you don't know where
you've placed.

there is the repetition of
ordinary stories which,
on lucky days,
are heard just twice.

The next big thing is
losing the sense of smell,

being unable to tell
your favorite perfume
from the stink of a dead cat
across the street.

When I was little,
the house would
always smell
like pineapples
on my birthdays.

The smell is a bridge
to the memory of
having been there and
because I remember it,
I can always go back.

My grandmother lived with us
for six months before passing.

She smelled like soil
but she wouldn't remember.
She is the one to be held responsible
for me starting to put words together.

So here is the answer to your question:
In a few years, I may not remember -
this is the reason why I write.

Because although I hold you high,
I don't know your smell.

But I will always find you in the words
'mouth', 'waterfall' and 'bassinet',
my bridge to you may never be
other than the written code.

This is why it's
so important to me
that you remember.

(To M.)
(This poem is an answer to an argument around a question on who would or wouldn't remember the other in ten years) 
(Shared with The Imaginary Garden)


  1. Wow. And in your voice.
    "Do not go gentle into that good night.
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light." Or of scents and sound.

  2. I think that even when every other part of us forgets a person...there is still a sense of them....they are a part of us. We continue to be part of each other even in other lifetimes. That is why there are people who we are comfortable with even from the very moment we meet them.

  3. Brilliant opening. Just an incredible write.

  4. Truly amazing poem.

  5. Anonymous2/03/2014

    beautiful, amazing, and your reading is perfect. now off to read Marlon's pen ~

  6. Anonymous2/03/2014

    wow.....loved the poem and loved the way your voice glides through the words

  7. I agree with Kathryn. I say you are a truly amazing poet.
    Luv, K

  8. Beautiful poem. I hadn't thought about losing the sense of smell, but I guess if that's lost so many memories would be forgotten.

  9. Have you ever read Lisa Genova's novel, "Still Alice"? You might love it, as I did.

  10. oooh, Kenia, nice to see you extending yourself to a longer piece. that is how it goes, isn't it? i love that the grandmother is "the one to be held responsible." mine, too.

  11. The sense of smell is a remarkable spark to memory, and many of mine relate to my grandmother too, and my mother. It is sad to see the cycle of dementia passing from one generation to the next, and your words really accentuated that for me. I do love how you brought the discussion to the present quandary... "Will I ever forget you?" So feelingly answered in the final lines.

  12. Just watched "The Notebook"… wow. This is very well done - so personal.

  13. Anonymous12/18/2014

    Heartbreakingly lovely, Kenia. I loved haring you read it.

  14. This is a wonderfully constructed poem, and the read along that follows it actually helped me to listen to those emotions you've identified with. :)