Making Scents of Memories

Today for dVerse Poetics, Grace invites us to “drizzle your poems with fragrances.” I find this my most favorite sense to slip into both prose and poetry because it so easily accesses memories. I took you back to my childhood in the late 40’s and 50’s and just a few sensory related memories. I grew up in my earliest years in the foothills of L.A, in the home of my grandparents until my widowed mother remarried when I was seven. That is the setting for this poem.



Making Scents of Memories
Mama melts blue cubes
in cold, then boiling water.
Clean, fresh smells erupt,
linger on my Sunday dress,
on starched crinoline petticoats.

I hide in branches of my pepper tree,
crinkle its leaves,
breathe in its pungent aroma,
taste secrets.

Mama smells like roses—
Grandma’s funeral,
like gardenia and cigarettes.

Incense—inhale the Sacred.
Clouds billow,
wisps snake around blessed candles
in dark, consecrated vaults.

Fear—our hills are aflame–
acrid smoke from eucalyptus torches
and burning brush.
Grandpa carries me off the mountain
to Aunt Mary’s.

When my widowed Mama remarries,
I weep goodbyes.
Lilies of the valley wave
fragrant farewells.

Please join us and invite your poet friends.


23 thoughts on “Making Scents of Memories

  1. Lovely and bittersweet memories.


  2. All the memories will keep floating by when whiffs of same rekindle the senses!



  3. Sherry Marr says:

    Such beautifully evocative memories, and scents.


  4. Mish says:

    So much more between the lines and yet, you have shared your nostalgia and emotions. The scents you have used really bring each significant event to life for the reader.


  5. C.C. says:

    So poignant….the tasting of secrets and weeping goodbyes. Wow.


  6. Sue Anderson says:

    Poignant and lovely. Thanks.


  7. I could smell each one. I really enjoyed the concise form–you crafted so much in each snippet.


  8. When the family gets together and reminisces about home and mom, the invariably come to the scents and aromas she had a hand in. Today with cousins, we compared notes and shared memories. They all smelled pretty good to me (and I have no sense of smell!) Thank you, Victoria!


  9. maria says:

    A poem that chronicles the past. Thanks for sharing the scents of your memories with us here… 🙂


  10. Bryan Ens says:

    That last stanza really got me…the joy of being back with your mother must have been bitter-sweet as you left your grandparents’ home.


  11. Sanaa Rizvi says:

    Such eloquent verse, Victoria. Each poem is in itself a beautiful and emotive tale ❤

    Lots of love,


  12. I love the image that you produced with such beautiful use of words. Well done!


  13. Each poem a story in itself, together a complete story. Each a scent in itself. Wonderful Victoria.


  14. Victoria, your perfumed miscellany drew tears – your memories, so vivid and emotional. Incense fasting tended to make me dizzy!


  15. im.Perfectly~Leah says:

    this was both bitter but, completely lovely,Victoria


  16. Michael says:

    Lovely Victoria such memories and such fragrances that connect them.


  17. What a sweet set of memories, though those burning eucalyptus made me a little sad.


  18. Clever title! And the memories are beautiful.


  19. Grace says:

    I admire how each part is a complete sensory delight Victoria. I remember wearing those starched dresses myself, and I love the smell of that pepper tree. That part of the hills flaming up is scary to me as well.

    Take care Victoria and keep cool.


  20. Linda says:

    Sad and sweet. I love that crinoline petticoat, and then the crinkled leaves. Wonderful poetry as always, Victoria!


  21. jillys2016 says:

    Verbs, wonderous verbs! I LOVE this poem. Each aroma is clear and vivid.


  22. kanzensakura says:

    This is wonderful. I just adore/love how you separated each into separate memories. Each one of these memories are poignant and redolent of that time in your life: bluing, cigarettes, wild fires,incense – all of them a look into your past, a look into you. I love all of these and cannot pick out a favorite. These are all amazing.


  23. Charley says:

    What a beautiful variation — to call it a “list” poem is to do it injustice. Strong imagery (scents and otherwise), carefully culled. Great job!


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