POEM: “Ode To My Incense” — And what wooden box shall encase my position / And hold fast my lingering scent … and fading stench?

incense in my flat
Ode To My Incense (…and when?)

Tonight I burn a small stick of incense
lavender, from the Montreal shop of herbs.
It burns in a wooden casing bought from her
in Wakefield as a gift for my birthday, many years.
It reminds me she wanted her man so much so
that she video-oh’d him daily to say hello.
She knew what she wanted. And, she went for it.
From Paris, to Ottawa, and now Amsterdam she’s got it.

As the small stick of incense:
lavender, burns – in my Montreal apartment
Am I thankful my house is not in flames?
That the stick burns safe, ashes to remain?
It makes me think of the other night:
I slipped on water in the kitchen: GREAT FRIGHT!
Grabbed hold of the nearby wall: survived!
Smiled, thinking: ‘Could have cracked my skull open, alright!’

And the small stick of incense:
Lavender burns – in my Montreal flat before bed.
How grateful I am to still have my skull!
Such inconvenience a stranger to have to sweep my bloody from floor!
And I had just been watching a film, had me feeling –
It was about a woman who leaves San Fran for New Zealand.
“Oh! I have no money for such a fabulous island!”
Preventing a fall, I smiled miles-wide on my way to the toilet.

As I did my business…
I thought, “this is Real Life, isn’t it?”
That I can walk upright…
That my legs work just fine…
That I have health to hike…
And eyes for sight…
Why are we waiting to retire?
Why not live things now we know will inspire?

As the small stick of incense
Lavender, burns – calming presence,
here is where lays the happiness:
It is in gratitude that you have legs.
And when you don’t have legs
It’s gratitude for wooden or synthetic pegs
Or crutches, or a wheelchair
Or whatever your repair.

Perhaps happiness is everything that remains
behind when you lose what you expected to gain
until the very last moments you sigh your last breath
You will still be happy to have made such distance.
Unless of course, you are stuck in a rut!
This is not happiness: you MUST MOVE about!
And if you bring into your life SOME momentum,
you can be assured of your motion to propel and movement.

Tonight, it is the wood stove fire smoke up the pipe
that we used to stoke together at my cottage at night.
My, it’s been near a decade I’ve slept so tight
next to a handsome man I called love, and ‘mine.’
I’m in the City now, single, but I miss the fire pit.
Wood logs, dirty hands, mowing lawns, and BBQ spit.

But as the lavender incense stick was lit,
it burns like life leaving ashes behind it.
Like memories taking shape of the stick
or disintegrating easily with the wind of my breath:
WOooooooOOOooosh! You’re gone – in an instant/instance.
How do things re-take shape like a stick of incense?

How long does the lavender calm linger in air
Before it starts to wreak of a bygone era?
Oh, little stick of natural essences and oils
Oh, little skinny body of mine that toils.
Burn me bright, will ya – and breathe me in!
Who will smell me sweetly into the evening again!

And what wooden box shall encase my position
And hold fast my lingering scent … and fading stench?

… and when?

Sylvie Hill, Montreal, September 27, 2019