My olfactories sense Wislawa’s clothing
Emitting that unique odor
Little know in the
Because moths don’t seem to thrive here,
At least not in my neighborhood.
It is similar, though not exactly, the home-filled
scent of a Swiss friend of mine.
Hers seems to descend from lace curtains, doilies,
And assorted antimacassar spread through her house.
These prized handiworks remnant themselves
As memories of her fond, native culture.
So the question becomes,
Do cultures send off
Distinct scents, heritable colognes, that born-to-them folks
Need as survival tools in a strangers’ place, a different homeland?
Szymborska needed this, not at all, for she was internationally
Accepted, acclaimed worldwide, prized with any citizenship.
So why then the moth balls?
Comforting of course
Security against invasion or personal
Incursion, when or where the
Insect or its human henchman might appear.
My imaging eye envisions Wislawa’s room —small, cramped,
Cared for only as a den for emerging word-beasts or heavenly-bodies
Depending on which muse came to visit —
A cup of tea or snort of brandy type.
Cigarette ends, I know they would be there.
Never known as butts, for its not a word of glorious sounds.
An apple, maybe two, salty crackers carefully, evenly-wrapped
In waxed paper, a classic, Europe-in-war-time scene about it.
Manuscripts tenderly arranged, no exception to their neatness.
Snapshots, here and there, no dignitaries, that’s the job of
Hers are family, heart-sharers, those who
Don’t walk in and out of a life, but stay grounded forever.
Yes, if only I could recreate the setting, evoke the ambiance with
Symbolic things, my poems might echo hers,
Leaving me to wonder,though,
if I, too, would begin
To smell like moth balls.
August 19, 2018