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The Smell of Mama

Updated: May 9, 2020

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

The End

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