I did not expect the reverie that overwhelmed me
As I walked up to the lovely Bear Creek home.
It was dignified, expensive, and well-coiffed
Much too nice for the smell of manure that greeted me
As two workers tilled the natural fertilizer into flower beds.
What greeted me was the spring smell of childhood
As the yearly delivery of cow manure came to my grandfather’s
Garden where it would be turned into deep red tomatoes,
Bright yellow corn, and lovely green okra. All the stuff of
Earthy meals in my grandmother’s hot kitchen.
The musty odor was like Chanel or Aramis and it still reminds
Of things that I love: family, work, care, food, and eating.
I played alongside my grandfather as he tilled the garden
And planted seeds he had ordered from his Burpee catalog
Which arrived in the winter and had its own smell.
I was a child when my grandfather died in a VA hospital
But the lessons I learned in his manure-rich garden
Still remain with me. So also the lunches I would share
With him when I skipped down the hill from Oakhurst School
To his house and the kitchen where I spent so much time.
I was an adult when my grandmother died and was able to
Give the eulogy at her graveside, grateful for the
The opportunity to remember her fecund life
Much like the garden in her yard and the vegetables that
Grew in neat rows, nourished by the manure.
I rang the doorbell, but the smell of the compost excited
My mind, and I announced to the lady of the house
That in a few seconds I had relived a wonderful part
Of my past. All because of an aroma which connected
Me to loving grandparents and grand experiences.
The smell of manure soon goes away as it gives up itself
And merges with soil. It makes an abundant environment for life,
Which is exactly what my grandparents did for me.