Bio Note: I am including these poems for my mother who survived eighteen years and three cancers before dying twenty years ago. Her perfume, or a small bit of it, still survives and brings her back to me. The second poem is more about my survival, and how this moment of defending her was a turning point in my sense of confidence in my instincts and ability to endure through loss. Something I am looking forward to during this strange time is the publication of In the Muddle of the Night, co-written with Alan Walowitz, coming soon from Arroyo Seco Press.
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— wholey, 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 wish 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.
Originally published in Silver Birch Press, October 2016
Do Not Resuscitate
I held the DNR like a shield when the ambulance arrived, guarding my mother's vacated body against further invasion. Time to end the war, wave the white flag. The uniformed men gave assent, backed away, brought in the body bag.
Originally published in Right Hand Pointing, March 2020
©2020 Betsy Mars
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