The Smell of Mama
Updated: May 9
A poem dedicated to Mamas everywhere
Mama may have been made of sugar and spice and everything nice
but she smelled of hot apple pie, chicken and rice
Mama smelled like fresh dryer sheets, floor wax and bleach
and every time I walked in the house, I smelled her love and felt her peace
Mama smelled like every kind of soap. To her cleaning was an art.
She was always washing and straightening and making sure I did my part
Mama usually smelled just like the grocery store.
You know that smell that promises, “Just wait … there’s more.”
Mama took vegetables, canned goods, meat, and fish
and perfumed our home with delicious dish after dish
Mama smelled like fresh baked cookies after a tough day at school
but she also smelled like DANGER if I dared to break the rules
I remember Mama saying, “You’re the apple of my eye”
and the smell of her perfume as she kissed me goodbye
Mama smelled like the paper on which she left me notes
saying that she loved me, to do my best, and to ignore mean, ignorant folks
Her clothes smelled of fresh grass, wildflowers and the dirt of playgrounds
as we enjoyed the fun of being outside that knows no bounds
Mama often smelled of the car’s interior and faux leather seats
as she drove me to school, appointments and my track meets
She hated that after she pumped the gas, she smelled like gasoline
I didn’t mine though…
because afterwards we’d go out, just the two of us, for new clothes and ice cream
Daddy said she smelled like the ocean and beautiful white sandy beaches.
When I was little, she smelled of milk, honeysuckle, and fresh peaches
She smelled like the wooden spoon that tanned my hide when I got out of line
but afterwards her hugs smelled like lilacs and freesias and I turned out just fine
She smelled like the herbs, fruits and vegetables that grew in her garden.
I live in the big city now and that smell isn’t very common
On holidays she smelled of pot roast, pumpkin pie, Christmas trees and garland.
And her turkey, ham and dressing were not easily forgotten
Mama smelled like crisp dollar bills on allowance day
when she reminded me to pay my tithes and put a little some away to save
She smelled like tissues, cough syrup, band aids and Vick’s salve
for it was Dr. Mom’s clinic I visited every time I felt bad
I remember the smell of hairspray on Sunday mornings when she wore her Sunday best.
And us kids smelled of fresh starch and shoe polish with bows and barrettes
She smelled like the moon and stars as she tucked me in bed
and the smell of adventure lingered in the room after each book to me she read
Mama smelled a little bit like Daddy after he’d hug her close and kiss her cheeks
They’d stare into each other’s eyes and you could hear both of their heart beats
After he died, she’d still smell like him from time to time
I imagine she’d sit all snuggled up with his favorite sweater remembering times gone by
Mama smelled like so many things or should I say they smelled like her
And I’ve known that “Mama Smell” since the day of my birth