Scotland, nineteen seventy-something.
Red squirrels and red deer.
Heather on the hillside reminded me of moors. I
remember passing by the red brick wall
of an ancient estate, stretching my neck to see
a velvet-antlered stag from my backseat window.
Each evening, descending the valley,
the family would exclaim upon the smell
from the paper mill, pungent. I
stretched my neck and nose, sitting tall
all week long, wondering what it meant
to smell a thing, and what I was missing.
Six days before the Passover,
Mary filled the house with perfume,
but I missed the cue; I did not appreciate
the scent of death clinging to her brother
so soon from the tomb, the stench of betrayal,
nor the spiced ointment of love. But if
my devotions appear lacking or incomplete,
charge it I pray to my imperfect property,
and not to my intent.