Odour of Life


Of life I would pose one simple question: that of her scent.

I am certain the answer would vary according to the asker;

Would her odour depend on what is most meaningful to each person?

And if so – what does she smell like, to me?

What about nostalgia – would her scent raise up memories

Long buried in my unconscious mind?

Or would she carry that unidentifiable smell of my grandparents’ hallway

Or that of my mother – or those old classrooms long since redecorated?

Or would she smell of happy pleasantries, those western comforts

Of lavender; roses; freshly cut grass; strawberries or sweet spring rain?

Of bacon, or onions frying, or brownies in the oven – or coffee?

Of a new book as yet unread, or a new garment; or the sea?

Perhaps her odour would be of hobbies, where long hours invested.

The scent of oil paints, or yarn, or that favourite reading blanket?

Of the sofa, or the rusting music stand, or that subtle keyboard scent?

Perhaps she smells of the pub; the swimming pool; the friend’s house?

Or maybe her scent depicts the more real elements of everyday living:

The husband’s feet at the end of a long day; his breath in the morning?

That resented cat’s trophies in the garden despite all our efforts?

The bins; the bathroom cleaning products; the oil smell in the old car?

Or is her scent more gritty, less pleasurable but more memorable?

Such as that of the storm drains in Santa Cruz, where street kids live;

That mingling of sweat, stale urine and vomit; stench of disease…

Such strong smells so fixed in the mind, so clear, so detestable, so real.

Or perhaps that unique hospital smell deeply ingrained in the tender mind.

Or the perfume of the loved one from whom we’re now parted for a while.

Or the drugs the youngsters smoke on the graveyard, with loud laughter.

Or the dust of that old forgotten chapel in that old sleepy village.

Perhaps life’s own scent is more than all these memories, ideas, dreams;

Perhaps she has a unique odour of her own that we are yet to discover –

Or perhaps some tear-jerking concoction of several of the above,

As yet unimaginable but beautiful and full of meaning for each one of us.

I wonder, what will Life smell like, to me?

Written March 2018 (by Kat Gibson).

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