The Proust Effect

My response to dVerse Poets Pub Open Link Night, for which I would like to share a ‘stream of consciousness’ poem I submitted to The Poetry Society’s Members’ Poems Competition on the topic of ‘scent’, which was unsuccessful.

I inhale

The summer trail

Of dust and flowers

Where we played for hours

Sniffing wild fennel studded with snails

On the way to school

Wrapped in scarves

Of damp autumn fog

We dodge the acridity of dog

Turds and the putrid decay

Of rubbish in the alley

To be greeted by the school canteen

With its pungency

Of cabbage and custard

And then home

Where Grandmother’s lily

Echoes in the valley

Of childhood

Her kitchen steeped

In a gauze of gas

Washing powder

Warm pastry and ironing

Grandfather’s coat

Fresh from the factory

Reeks of metal and biscuit

Dunked in workman’s tea

Olfactory instruments

Perform an aromatic aria

In a landscape of smells

And my nose for nostalgia


© Kim M. Russell, 2016

The Proust Effect

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39 thoughts on “The Proust Effect

  1. the poems works very well, painting images with olfactory clues. Smell is our strongest clue for sense memory; stronger than sight for recall. I like the lines /grandfather’s coat/fresh from the factory/it reeks of metal & biscuits/dunked in a workman’s tea/.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is how I remember my grandfather – he came home every lunchtime and I loved that smell when he’d come through the door and scoop me up for a hug. I try to forget what he was like when dementia took over and he thought I was his dead sister.


  2. Pure delight–I was excited as soon as I saw the title. I love to read and write about the olfactory sense and the many memories it effects. Loved the contrast between those scents we enjoy and those we don’t so much, like dog turds.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Don’t say “unsuccessful.” In whose eyes? I for one find this aromatic aria quite delightful! One thing I’ve learned since starting to write poetry now 15 months ago — the writing has to please me — and if others enjoy, that’s icing on the cake….and make that strawberry please with a scent that tickles the tastebuds! 🙂
    Success is in the expression and the putting pen to paper — or keyboard to screen. Then — how others perceive it, well, that’s up to them! 🙂 Glad you posted here!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This was a most successful poem about scents and memories. It certainly triggered some in me. Like others, I don’t understand why this didn’t make it, but then, the folk who “judge” poetry don’t often have good judgement. I think this is a great poem, especially on second reading.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Toni. Sometimes, when I get a run of rejections, it really gets me down – and then I take part in dVerse Poets Pub and other challenges or prompts and it’s all worth while 🙂


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