Poetry, sometimes life’s best monument

I wrote this a little over 5 years ago, when life for me was very different. As I’m revisiting some of this material from my past for another project I’m working on, I was thankful that God in his abundant creativity gave us the gift of poetry to capture the stuff of infinity at least for a brief moment.

This definitely isn’t Shakespeare (or even Seuss for that matter). Its just me. And I confess, I love it. So I thought I’d share it here again.

Scents of Mokottam

Wednesday, August 4, 2004

The smell, the poignant smell,
The kind that smacks you over the head like a rusty frying pan,
From the mounds of decaying compost and fertilizer,
That makes you wish you hadn’t eaten whatever you had just eaten for lunch,
It hurts sometimes.

The smell, the musty smell,
The kind that gently floats into your nose like a thousand sharp daggers,
The smell of a dank basement and food that has spoiled for months,
Like a thin layer of green mold festering under your nostrils,
It never seems to let go.

The smell, the smell of despair,
The unemployed father shamefully showing his oldest son’s identification card,
He is handicapped.
The unemployed father wondering what to do with his “stupid” twenty-year old son,
As he feeds his other children my leftovers,
I wish I didn’t eat all that sweet-smelling chicken.

I smell barbeque, the smell of pork kabob,
I eat. I eat. I eat.
The smell of hunger?
Faint now.
Until I look into the window and see young Mina,
When did he eat last?
There’s only one left.

The smell of home,
The scent of a loving family sipping Egyptian tea together in unison,
Sweat rolling down their faces,
Laughter shaking the foundations of the weak building,
Don’t they know they are living in a garbage village?

The smell, the putrid smell of injustice,
The rotten odor that emanates from all things evil,
The heinous stench stuffed in the nose of a holy God,
The yellow fumes that rise when workers are not paid,
When children sleep beside crushed rat carcasses,
When tourists come to worship merciful God at the monastery
And drive through the garbage village
With bright red handkerchiefs covering their noses,
When the government pawns thousands of garbage collectors’ livelihoods
To multinational corporations
To bury them in the ground in huge landfills,
To bury them in the ground in huge landfills,
It hurts sometimes.

The smell, the smell of Jesus,
A sweet scent of hope to those who have no hope,
We are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved
And those who are perishing,
A fragrant breath of fresh air to those whose lives are
Stuffed with the stench of oppression, suffering and hopelessness,
The fragrant offering of our lives poured out like a drink
At the feet of Jesus,
And the whole house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.


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