Poetics : comfort smells

Hello all! I am guest hosting Poetics at d’Verse this week, an honour and a pleasure to be in the company of really fine poets.

Pub will open 3 pm Eastern Standard Time. Come for a brew and write a line or two.

“Today I ask that you write a poem about a smell that takes you to a time when you would just collapse into a safe place especially when the world was getting too rough and tough on you. Close your eyes for a moment, blot out all the sounds and just inhale a memory. Then write your poetry, write a poem that has smell as a safe memory. What’s your comfort smell? Tell me.

Link up your post at the pub and read the other offerings.

For me, it is the smell of old books that take me to that safe place, standing between the bookshelves of an old library, sitting on the floor of a used book shop, here is where I feel safe, a smell I associate with feeling embraced by warmth and love.”

But today I was moved to write about another smell that makes me feel even safer, please read on.


once upon a time
in a deeply scented story
is this place I call safety
between the salt of the sea
and coconut oil remedy,
my mother’s spices and oils
holds me, safely

back in the days before electricity
we fanned ourselves with leaves
from a very tall coconut tree
while my mother braided my hair tightly
with sweet jasmine flowers between
her saffron tinged fingers, lovingly

a long time ago
in a distant scenery
is this place I recall vividly
if I need to feel safe again
I inhale deeply
and Mama there you are

in the salty sea spray
with coconut oil ready,
sweetest jasmine, saffron musky
you are safety to me



trust your heart if the seas catch fire – e.e. cummings

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109 thoughts on “Poetics : comfort smells

    1. thank you Christine, like wise your poem aroused some very deep emotions for me this morning when I read it. its like you had a look into my heart. I am glad you connected with this poem about my mum and how she makes me feel.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. my paternal great grandmother is English and my grandfather, was a huge influence in our lives when we were a little older, i think this is a throwback to that. I spoke English later in life. I grew up speaking Malay and Chinese first. yes we use Mum. only my elder boy used to call me Mom for some reason. how lovely that you were raised in London!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. lovely! I grew up in Malaysia but have traveled and lived in the US, Canada and New Zealand among other brief stints in Asia, finally Malaysia is still home to me. you are a sweet blend of cultures Christine

        Liked by 1 person

    1. yes they do GH, with all the trauma of everyday life she has been my safe haven when things got really rough, I can’t thank her enough. i know how much you love and treasure your mum too.


    1. you would connect with these scents Grace, a part of our culture and heritage of South East Asia. thank you for this wonderful opportunity to contribute to dverse. no smells here but a place I feel very at home and safe.


  1. Omg Gina I love your poem, I could smell the jasmine and I could feel my mom’s fingers braiding my own hair. You always have such a knack for transporting me back to memories I’d long forgotten. I will definitely be participating this week, since you’re hosting!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. it was such a lovely surprise to be invited to host, quite a challenge for this little poet! we share many similar memories Jade , I think this strengthens our bond even more. thank you for your sweet comments. my childhood memories are vivid and very scared to me. i am sure your mum braided your hair with a special blessing each time.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. it is my pleasure to be here hosting Lillian, and reading the amazing poetry coming out of smells and scents. digging deep into memories seem to have a healing effect for some. I fell into your apple grove and now want apple pie! my Mama is a strong and no nonsense type of Mama, she brought us up well, I am so blessed to have her as mine.


    1. thank you Glenn, I read about mothers and how they have shaped our lives with their love. this has been such a lovely prompt to get to the heart of people. I am humbled by the poetry I am reading from everyone. such beautiful sharing of memories. a very good safe place. yours on your mum’s cooking was so warm and comforting, the young man’s heart so full of admiration for his mother.


  2. Such delicious smells, Gina, ‘between the salt of the sea / and coconut oil remedy’ and your mother’s spices and oils – scents of safety indeed.I love the scene you paint of your childhood, with your mother braiding your hair with jasmine flowers – how wonderful!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. braiding my hair was a chore! LOL! Mama would take her time doing this and it was one of those moments I knew no matter what she would always be there for me, and she always has. thank you so much for visiting this moment with me.

      Liked by 1 person

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    1. New Zealand is nostalgic for me in many ways, the smells will always take me back to a very special time I had there, it was lavender and jasmine for me too. Jasmine is one of those special scents. I am so pleased you connected so well with the prompt, I enjoyed reading yours about your Nana and Nivea, that was absolutely lovely.

      Liked by 1 person

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  5. Oh Gina!! What a saturated poem – smell, sight, touch – so full of memory and love and safety. I love how you weave your words into such beautiful imagery. Last week was a crazy week (and this one is not looking better) but I will make some time for this challenge!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thank you so much for your lovely words. crazy week! sounds you did more running about than actual running. hope things settle down for you. miss your poetry posts. always look out for you in my reader. take care and be blessed always.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. specific scents kindle different feelings Jane. I think I was raised very tenderly. my childhood is a precious story to me. I am so pleased with your comment on the poetry form. you know I admire your writing skill tremendously so its huge praise to me.


    1. it is an honour to be invited to host at dverse. her fingers always smelled of spices and her touch was infused with that and her own warmth. I will always associate her with this. thank you for your sweet comments.


  6. Beverly Crawford

    Such a beautiful poem, Gina. I enjoyed it so. My husband has been gone since 1979, but the smell of Old Spice shaving lotion brings him to my side. Your poem reminded me of that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Old Spice features strongly in my life too Beverly, in fact still does. I am missing some one who uses that scent. he may have been gone so long but I understand how that one scent brings him straight back to you. warm hugs to you Beverley.


    1. thank you Elizabeth my dearest friend, I look forward to your poetry and images, you always give me such beautiful words. yes those smells still linger and have been a huge source of comfort.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Coconut scent – Ay! I know that quite well, too, as coconuts are life for us folks in your neighbor, Philippines. It always reminds me of sweet treats (and not so sweet ones, too). Even now, I can smell the oil that oozes from coconut meat being roasted and toasted. Those were the days..


    1. coconut plays a prominent role in both our countries. that roasting smell seems to accompany many sweet memories for me too. Coconut candy is my downfall!! thank you Imelda for adding to these wonderful scents that will always remind me of a safe and comfortable home


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    1. I think we have a lot of spice and aroma that seeps into our daily life from cooking, this enriches the culture and bonds we have with family. I hope my relationship with my mother will be a good example to my children, to respect and honour their elders.


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