Saturday, 14 April 2018


Aromatherapy

by Betsy Mars


Hanging empty in the closet are the outlines of
the physical reality of you.
Frequently worn items spared or
not yet relinquished
to moths or good will. Just
your size, your style,
the outer shell of the outer you.
If I hold them up to my ear, will I hear the sea?
If I could fill them – especially
that purple ultrasuede coat that was custom made
for you –
would your earthly body return?

A few bottles of your nail polish solidify
in the medicine cabinet. Your favorite colors.
One last effort to maintain control
over one aspect of your beauty that the cancer
(which took your hair, bloated you,
took away your bladder control and your lovely legs)
could not destroy.
The pull of the bed finally 
caused your muscles and organs to atrophy but
your nails were your domain.

Mostly – most importantly – the remains of
a bottle of French perfume 
that was your staple when I was small
and you were 
an impossibly beautiful scented goddess
and I was my truer self. 
In awe of you always, one whiff upon cracking open
the cracking box is all it takes to reconnect
me with you, with me
as I ride home to myself on
an evaporating trail of fumes.


* * * * *

"Aromatherapy" was first published in the anthology A Poet Is A Poet No Matter How Tall: Episode II: Attack of the Poems (For the Love of Words, 2014).  

Author's note: This is one of the first poems I wrote when I resumed writing after a dry and difficult period in my life. I wrote it to submit to an anthology that a friend was compiling to raise money for a local children’s hospital. I was (and am) still coming to terms with both who my mother was and the fact that she is no more. This poem was first published as a prose piece in that anthology (A Poet Is A Poet No Matter How Tall: Attack of the Poems (For the Love of Words, 2014)). I decided to alter the form but not the content to emphasize various ideas. 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.

Biography: 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 in a number of places, both online and in print, most recently in Sheila-Na-Gig, The Ekphrastic Review, and Red Wolf Journal. Writing has given her a means to explore her preoccupation with mortality and her evolving sense of self.