A SCENT IN THE DARK

The last time we bantered about smells or scents,
Stick, I gave up on scents, the smell of knowing.

Everything I have loved and lost come back to me
like haunting odours, like those scented mothballs

under clothes Father left that I could not, would not,
move from attic chests I am wont to open when lost

between worlds of the child who would pipe down
from fearsome anxieties and the man-child’s anger:

“I know you hear me, Father, when familiar scent
break out of drawers, and I am your little boy again:

I run through the hills in pursuit of the wayward
kites you shaped for me from those bamboo slats

cut from groves of shoots we would gather and boil,
and oh, how its aroma bridges our unwanted space,

your scent pulling me into arms I know I’ve missed,
into rhythms of lullabies on the mountain hammocks!

I cherish these as urgently as that boy who runs to you
at sundown for a quick toss in the air only fathers can do.”

I know and keep these memories as long as I could,
Stick. I know them, hoard them, mostly from their smell.

—Albert B. Casuga
05-27-11