The Scent of the Past


Monday Morning Musings:

“We sit down

in the smell of the past

and rise in a light

that is already leaving.”

From Rita Dove, “November for Beginners”

“Wars, plagues, names upon tombs tell us only what happened. But history lies in the cracks between.”

― Sarah Blake, The Guest Book


The wind roars, a dragon

blowing in the season


overnight the temperature drops

and there’s a reason


I’m baking and cooking

easing in

this time of melancholy and light.


The leaves glow golden

in the slanted light of dimming days



and color pops, unrestrained,

blazing, in the rays


of setting sun.


Here come ghosts

and memories, the dead

Day of the Dead at Love Park

William Penn looking down at the Day of the Dead display at Love Park, Philadelphia


remembered in joy and sorrow

decorations, graves, a thread



of history, the moments in-between

the things we love, the times we dread


the smell of the past,


comes back to haunt us–

my mother says, do you smell that


when nothing is in the air

and goes on to chat—


(I open window and door)

we discuss dogs, a cat


and this is where we’re at,


now, daughter and I make candles

smelling scents for future burning

but is it also, perhaps,

for a past we’re yearning


in scents of autumn and Christmas

as the season is turning


we talk and sip our wine.



Swirl, sniff, taste,

discuss ghosts and dreams,


the feelings of houses

our moods, of what seems


to be real or not—

(I watch how the light streams


then dims.)

Vintage Wine Bar, Philadelphia

Vintage Wine Bar, Philadelphia

The clocks turned back,

but we’re the ones that change,


not time. It moves on,

there’s no real exchange


hours lost or gained,

yet memories remain, sometimes disarranged


but triggered by this or that, perhaps a scent.


I dream of cooking beans,

the refrain, they need long simmering


add some water the dream people say

and in my mind some glimmering–


this is my life and words

with long slow cooking, simmering


and sometimes shimmering


through the cracks

the scents of cinnamon and spice, autumn


the leaves glow and fall

the ghosts often forgotten


wander, here and there

as the light dims


but returns—in time.


Merril’s Movie Club–we watched It on Halloween, as the wind began to howl. We saw Pain and Glory, Almodovar’s latest. Husband and I both liked it–(but liked Parasite more)–you probably know if you like this kind of thing, Banderas as Almodovar remembering his life, perhaps more pain than glory at times. Trailer here.  We also started watching a French series on Netflix, Black Spot (definitely not translated from the French title Zone Blanche) about strange goings on in a French town. We like to keep our viewing international.  😉



















26 thoughts on “The Scent of the Past

  1. “The clocks turned back, / but we’re the ones that change,” That is so true. Time proceeds with or without us. We can’t control it no more than we can control Nature. Today’s musing makes me a bit homesick for north-central New York, the leaves changing, the smell of cider and fallen leaves; the chill of the evening air and the warmth of baking bread. Thanks for the memories 😉

  2. Always a treat. I just love how you share your week with us.
    Definitely want to see “Pain and Glory” and I’m too chicken for things like “It” 😉

  3. Your mother is right to notice the smells. The wind brings them at this time of year, along with the voices of people we remember. Those golden leaves and golden baked crusts are cinnamon-gorgeous 🙂

  4. Past, present, and future scents. I love the whole notion of that (and fits with the title of a chapbook I may or may not be working on, actually). Beautiful photos as always, Merril! That renaming of the French series is a little strange, n’est-ca pas?

    • Thanks so much for your comment, Luanne!
      I’m working on a chapbook that has an idea related to something we discussed once. I guess somewhat related, too, since lots of what I write is about time and memory.
      I read somewhere that the French title might have something to do with the area that doesn’t get cell phone coverage–what we’d call a dead zone? But I’m still not certain how that became Black Spot.

  5. I’ve been drinking tea with cinnamon–I do think autumn, more than any other season, is evoked by smells.
    You made me think of Paul Simon
    Time hurries on…and the leaves that are green turn to brown

  6. Your images and musings (and the images you create with words in your musings) are beautiful. I think I’m going to have to be brave and see “It.” During the daylight hours. (I’ve read the book and saw the original mini-series way back in the ancient days of the 1990’s.) Another friend recommended Pain and Glory, but I’d forgotten the name of it. I’ve added it to my queue so I won’t forget again. So glad to be part of your movie club. 🙂

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