As I passed my daughter’s room
her nail polish transported me to Apollo rockets
hanging on a thread in my childhood bedroom —
tenuously like my dreams of becoming an astronaut
and my father helping me cement them over the years.
Next I recalled uncontrolled laughter
and splitting headaches
that some kids enjoyed by sniffing glue
but which I suffered from cleaning chemical tanks
at my father’s factory
before I knew that ketones could lower my IQ.
Then came a fragrant flashback
of my father’s disappointment
in his son’s rejection of an appointment
to the US Air Force Academy
while bombs dropped in Vietnam
like the rockets falling from my ceiling
— shattering all our efforts.
Disappointment of not taking over his plastic company
but instead of going into medicine
where doctors “just fucked with you to take your money”.
Finally my daughter’s polish reminded me of diabetics in crisis
and of suturing a sassy drunk who didn’t know
that in the room down the hall
parents cry for their son that he just killed.
So to avoid the redolence of those ketones
I ask my daughter to do her nails on the porch
“Sorry, I just don’t like the smell.”
— by Sabio Lantz
Prompt: Kelly, at d’Verse Poets, asks us to write a poem about a memory evoked by scent.