How I discovered that I have no sense of smell

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.


The Monday in Holy Week: John 12:1-11

About Rosalind C Hughes

Rosalind C Hughes is a priest and author living near the shores of Lake Erie. After growing up in England and Wales, and living briefly in Singapore, she is now settled in Ohio. She serves an Episcopal church just outside Cleveland. Rosalind is the author of A Family Like Mine: Biblical Stories of Love, Loss, and Longing (Upper Room Books, 2020). She loves the lake, misses the ocean, and is finally coming to terms with snow.
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