my kitchen smells like

My kitchen

My kitchen smells like ghee and steam and the soft, dry perfume of fresh apples.

My kitchen smells like cold water on brass taps and handmade soap with flecks of spices in it.

My kitchen smells like washed hands and unwashed brow.

My kitchen smells like hungry cats and traces of feet on my yoga mat.

My kitchen smells like heat and damp linen tea towels.

My kitchen smells like potatoes going south.

My kitchen smells like herbal tea in white crockery and butternut squash in dusty vintage baskets.

My kitchen smells like stricken matches and compost that needs emptying.

My kitchen smells like What’s for dinner? and Are we there yet?

My kitchen smells like fresh basil and aching legs.

My kitchen smells like stretched patience and empty canning jars.

My kitchen smells like loose change and stray hairs getting caught between my glasses and my eyes.


About this poem: I’ve heard it said that a work of art that needs explaining is probably not a good work of art… but sometimes people really like to know more about how something was created, so here goes.

I rarely write poems. When I do write them, they often come to me all at once in about half an hour as I’m doing something that I never anticipated would inspire a poem.

In the case of My kitchen smells like, I dropped and broke a glass on my kitchen floor this morning, right before I was about to begin my daily yoga practice. As I swept up the pieces, I noticed a funky, sweaty foot smell, and kept trying to figure out where it was coming from for the entire time that I did my yoga.

Later I noticed that my kitchen smelled like apples. And then I kept thinking of other things my kitchen smelled like, and the poem was born.

I didn’t necessarily intend for the poem to feel so harried near the end, but breaking the glass first thing in the morning and having to postpone my yoga practice to clean it up made me feel rushed and cranky, and a lot of that seems to have oozed into the similes I’ve used.

My favorite line is “my kitchen smells like loose change,” because I like the wordplay in that phrase. A lot of my life smells like loose change, come to think of it.

I also like “my kitchen smells like stricken matches,” mostly because I’m not really sure if stricken is even a word. But I figured this was a poem, and therefore I had poetic license…


This post was originally published on my writing blog, tell it well.

©2010, Michelle Lynne Goodfellow. All rights reserved.