Still Carrying that Fear

I remember the smell of sunlight

upon my mother’s alabaster arms

that distinct scent which lingered

behind

long after she died

that scent which clung

to her hair clips and scarves

jewelry and jackets

and remained on her albums

and photos like fingerprints.


It’s been almost ten years

since I’ve smelled that scent,

so I was startled when

I smelled her return

just the other day

as I was lying face down

with my eyes closed.


I felt her reaching towards me

and a wave of reassuring comfort

accompanied that gesture

like a silent score.


Just as I was about to question

all this

I heard her whisper “ange”

as in angel without the L,

which was her name for me.


There was a natural impulse

even a longing

to move towards her but

an equally strong reflex

to pull back.


And in that halting, jerking

whiplash of a moment

I realized

this is how it was

for my younger me.


How she wanted to go towards

and take comfort in

but she had to retreat

and protect herself from.



- Lauren Taub Cohen