by Betsy Mars

I dream of genie, on a trail of vapors
you come, as I crack open the cracked box —
I slip through a scented wormhole of space
and time to the heart of the matter.

In another dimension, I follow close behind
on the essence of you — the base notes
left in the bottle.
My conscious mind amnesiac,
but my primitive nose remembers.
Scent remains unperturbed.
A complex perfume, imported,
outlasting you and your body —
French, at your service, no memorial
except your legacy of language and luxury.

The box sits on the shelf, idle, until I need you;
and then, with one whiff I follow,
transported to a splintered realm —
wholly, holey, Holy.
Shadowed and strung with trip wires:
nurture and neglect, ice and fire.
Memories dissipate like a genie
after three wishes are spent.

My first and only wish would be that
this fragrance lingers until I too depart,
leaving my own olfactory trace in my wake.
The bottle tightly stoppered to preserve
my mothered memories perfumed —
only the best notes remain.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: My mother’s picture with her favorite perfume.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: A lot of my poetry seems to relate to loss, mortality, and relationships and what endures. I was (and am) still coming to terms with both who my mother was and the fact that she is no more. I have many possessions that I cherish, being fairly sentimental by nature, but the perfume my mother wore during my childhood still has the power to evoke a memory of her on an almost subliminal level, and I am very grateful that it still holds its scent. I wanted to give it, and her, a second life here.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Betsy Mars is a southern California poet who is in a perpetual battle with change — finally coming to some kind of a truce, and at times even love and acceptance. She is an educator, mother, animal lover, and over-excited traveler. Her poetry has been published here and there, and here again, and writing has given her a means to explore her preoccupation with mortality and her evolving sense of self.