Scent of the earth

I smell green, I smell damp
The soft soil, bruised by my steps
Emits smells strong as a skunk
But infinitely sweeter

(green, damp)

I smell puddle, I smell pool
Fresh or stagnant, sweet or bitter
The moist breath of water meanders
Around me, murmuring of caimans.

(puddle, pool)

I smell feathers, I smell fur
My nostrils strain to catch,
Slipping through some clearing,
The secret musk of jaguar.

(feathers, fur)

I smell vines, I smell orchids
The sex perfumes of plants
Make this green world a red-light zone
Dizzying in its need to breed.

(vine, orchid)

I smell sun, I smell steam
In rare patches of light and heat
The scents are brighter, headier
As life passionately basks.

(sun, steam)

I smell shit, I smell piss
Here life is basic, raw – honest.
With no chemicals to strip
The fertility from fertiliser.

(life, death)

I smell life, I smell death
The sweet fetor of leaves
That in their dying
Feed voracious new life.

(life, death)

Here in these intense green
Cathedrals of the living world
The overwhelmed senses sing.
Reverently, I smell the earth.

Recently I’ve been lucky enough to be able to visit the amazing world of the tropical rainforest. And if you’ve ever been there yourself, you’ll know the incredible scents that come from the mad green diversity of life. In response to a prompt to write about smell at readwritepoem, I knew that I wanted to try and capture some of the amazing richness of this world, through its smells. I know next time I’m in that environment I’ll realise just how little justice I did to the amazing bouquet of life, but I’ve done my best!

The wonderfully lush photo is Tropical Rainforest, originally uploaded to flickr by Raja Daja.


10 responses to “Scent of the earth

  1. I could almost smell it too (when really all I can smell right now is cleaning fluid and damp dog), and I loved the way the refrain built up.

  2. i am far from a nature lover,, in fact i spend as little time in nature as possible… which sounds weird as i live in a secluded rural area…. but this poem made me enjoy what you see,, and thru you i was able to vicariously see a beauty i deny myself first hand… thank you…

  3. Damp dog has to be one of the most unpleasant smells there is… glad I gave you something to supplant it, Z!

    Paisley – I hope you can find some way to enjoy this kind of beauty that’s comfortable for you.

  4. Gorgeous! Love “the sex perfume of plants”, etc. πŸ™‚

  5. I did live in the rainforest for about 8 months. This is so perfect. One of my favorites that I’ve read by you.

  6. The sense of smell is so powerful..!!

    Love it!

    yellowed piece of paper

  7. I’d love to go to the tropical rainforests, while they still exist. Your poem is very lush, very evocative…

  8. Your poem reads like a song. Maybe you could record it. You sing, don’t you? I’ll bet your reading voice is lovely.

  9. i had never been…till now. thank you for taking me!

    empty garden

  10. The whole thing just smells green, green, green. Love it.

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