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Fragrant Flashbacks

by Leslie Ann Eisenberg

I couldn’t see when my milky, cornstarched body entered antiseptic air and bright lights. The pungent mixture of latex gloves and bleached blankets were my first breath. I couldn’t see, but I didn’t need to see. I could already smell my mom. My nose was a sponge, sucking up her sticky Aqua Net lacquer. I could taste rubber nipples before they touched my mouth, and I could smell gummy, vanilla formula warming on our sparkling clean electric stove.

When I could see, I didn’t need to see. Whiffs of crisp, clean smelling sheets contrasted with the mustiness of fifty-five stuffed animals that slept with me in the dark. On every birthday, the astringent pink scent of a single rhododendron placed in a bud vase aroused me from slumber. Varnish fumes from daddy’s dusty workshop burned my lungs. I sniffed the tang of great aluminum pots filled with spaghetti sauce that bubbled and burst red tomato seeds and fresh green spices onto the singe-stained electric stove.

With one eye closed, I still didn’t need to see. I trampled down wet mossy lanes in the woods, snapping green, aromatic twigs, chewing and spitting purple clover that smelled like lavender and sugar. I waded in silty creek water that reeked of dead fish and frog s--t that clung to my clothes long after I walked home in wet, squeaking shoes and tossed my clothes in a mildewing pile.

With both eyes closed, I don’t need to see at all. As I fall asleep in my grown-up bed, I can smell my husband’s hands, molded by callouses and sawdust from his wood shop. The intoxicating incense of white gardenias waft from my backyard, and I can smell the bouquet of my children’s dreams and dirty underwear.

03/07/2004

Author's Note: formerly my biography

Posted on 03/07/2004
Copyright © 2023 Leslie Ann Eisenberg

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by Maria Terezia Ferencz on 06/03/07 at 08:55 PM

bouquet of my childrens dreams......I love this line. But the entire piece is so inspiring, what a way of sensing things....

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