Scents and smells

Leaving from the airport

The first strong memory of smell was smoke and burning

Saw no fire

No rubbish pile smoldering

It was strong and pervasive but friendly

As if an African momma saw me coming

So went out to add more charcoal to her burner

To welcome me into her house with a hot meal like the rest of her children

The rain came soon after

Riding to my new home

My momma said I came to her with a blessing

The moisture smelled like something new and green

Flowers smiled as we paraded past them on a long walk up one of a Thousand Hills

Gathered in handfuls, marveling at colors

Each new aroma begged for attention

Fresh coffee brewed as we slept and sealed tight waiting

Erupted my nostrils with its perfume and coaxed me into wakefulness

Singing tones of mud, earth, hand-washed sheets, and mosquito nets

Work into a rhythm of familiarity

All of these contrasting sharply with odors of

Death, perspiration, bad breath, exhaust, and petrol

Choosing to focus and treasure the former, but never able to shake the rest

The sweet smells of matoke and rice and beans

The tingling freshness of an opened Fanta

Lingers on the palate, blurring days into weeks

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