Friday, June 20, 2014


It's not my grandmother's birthday, or even the anniversary of her death...but I've been thinking about her lately. 

Remembering every detail of her house. Remembering the way she loved to change out her bedspread to give her room a fresh look. Remembering the little apartment she moved into later in life. Remembering how she always kept her freezer stocked with at least five different flavors of ice cream. Remembering every birthday party she came to, every Christmas visit, every dress-up costume she sewed, every time she said, "I'm so very proud of you." Remembering how unexpected her death was to me, although all the signs were there—and had been there for a while. I just couldn't see them. 

It wasn't real to me that one day she would no longer be here. I always told her that she would live forever, and I think I honestly believed that. I never imagined that she wouldn't know my husband or be at our wedding. I still feel the urge sometimes to call her on the phone and tell her about a new recipe I've tried—she was the master chef, the expert, the maker of unmatched chocolate pies and fried chicken—so I know she'd love to hear all about my experiments in the kitchen. She was incredibly smart, ready to laugh, gave the best head scratches, and was the most consistent pen pal I've ever had. I rejoice in the fact that my grandmother is with our Savior, free of pain and suffering. But I miss her...and that's okay.

I wrote this poem after her passing three years ago. In honor of remembering, I'd like to share it with anyone else who's still remembering, too. 

No Scents
by Karley Kiker

We were talking perfume
the other day—
our favorite scents,
what’s “us.”

Bright freesias,

I tried to remember you,
that essence you wore.
Not vanilla or roses—
nothing bottled,
something more.

But was it flour or sugar?
Was it cinnamon or iced tea?
Store-bought cookies,
scratch gravy—
was it coffee?
Was it me?

Sitting right by you
on the couch where you read,
curled up at bedtime,
you scratching my head.

The farmer’s market
or tomatoes
with salt and black pepper?
Was it bacon grease,
or biscuits—
was it ice cream?
Something better?

Your hairspray,
that detergent,
potted plants on your porch?
The dogwoods,
raked leaves,
a clipped lawn,
your church?  

more flowers,
your picture,
a frame.

Held tears,
shared memories,
a box bearing
your name.

You’re gone and you’re not—
you’re there but you’re here.
Your things left behind,
your fragrance disappeared.

never captured,
not one
but the whole.

that scent—
something most like
your soul.

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