When my father hung his suitcoat
on the hall tree,
it smelled of George’s Sandwich Shop:
it smelled of the world.
At Christmas my Swedish grandfather
smelled of potent after-shave ---
bay rum? A festive scent,
exciting, with promise.
My other grandfather’s house smelled
of old cigarette smoke and dust
mixed with cantaloupe, the only food he stored,
other than Coca-Cola.
The small-town bank he owned
Smelled of chewed and spat tobacco,
of money, of metal, of maleness.
All gone now, though at times a wisp
of one wafts by, and the present gapes,
and the past engulfs.