This Leaky Urn

20 May

I am at work. It is not a glamorous job.
The tea here, which comes in small, individually
wrapped bags the color of dry soil, smells
like the elephant building at the animal refuge.

The coffee is better.

It smells like Golden Crisp—
the breakfast cereal. One of my mother’s favorites
before my brother got sick with that American
pandemic—the C word—and she became
a health nut. Which we tease her about
but love her for.

It is ironic that of all the things to notice—the videos
the young men are watching on the computers,
the jet-plane hum of our 16 computers, the way
my anxious chest feels thin today—I first noticed the smells.

Because, unlike you,

my nostrils are particularly stoppered, my nose thin
like my mother’s (just one more thing I inherited from
her, like our uncanny ability to lose track of time,

to garden
to write
to dream at the sink while washing dishes
to wake her up
call the doctor
get to the bank
put it on the calendar…

And then my palate is especially high (tiny spelunkers would
marvel! at my mouth’s natural campsite, amphitheatre, temple)
and together they make my sinus passages narrow,
marshy tributaries too clogged for
even a canoe.

No current.
No breath of life other than swarms of gnats
in clouds like scribbled-out cartoon speech bubbles.

But I’ve found enough off-brand honey
masks the tea’s dung-and-hay smell,
provided I didn’t throw away yesterday’s spoon.

One Response to “This Leaky Urn”

  1. stephenbaker May 20, 2009 at 5:20 pm #

    It’s amusing where minds can wander off to when we are in a spot where we can let go of the leash. Genes, smells, reminders of home.

    “…like scribbled-out cartoon speech bubbles” and the entire bit about the tiny cave explorers left me grinning at my computer.

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