Monday, May 4, 2009

Chanel No. 5

I am not certain scientists have determined how we retain strong associations with certain smells, but they are there nonetheless. Yesterday I was reading the Sunday newspaper and perusing the advertisements when I came across an ad for one of the department stores here. They were highlighting several of their new perfumes. If you’re familiar with these types of ads, there is flap that can be peeled open to release the scent of a particular perfume.

It reminded me of when I was a little girl in school and my mother would wear Chanel No. 5, a timeless and classic perfume. Sometimes I would ask her if I could try it. She smelled extra good when she wore it and I wanted to smell good too. That memory was so strong that when I took a poetry class about 20 years ago, it became the subject of one of my poems. (It follows below if you are interested.)

From time to time, I become curious if the memories I have of my mom wearing Chanel No.5 will come back to me or if they will be vague, faded, and misty. I can wander through a store's perfume section and discover that just one brief whiff instantly reminds me of those times and my mom. It’s remarkable how the mind processes these things and even though I don’t understand how it works, I’m very glad that it does. For one tiny pause, the span of a breath, I am five again and my mom is just a heartbeat away.

Chanel No.5

When I was five
and everyone else was six,
I got a new plaid dress
and black patent shoes.

I was going to ride the yellow bus
and go to school
for the first time
by myself.

When the day arrived
I awakened early,
got dressed,
and began waiting.

if my mama would be
all right at home alone
without me.

Would she know
what to do?
Would she survive
my first day?

At the last minute
I asked to wear
a little bit
of her perfume.

I saw her wave to me
from the kitchen window
as I took my seat
on the crowded bus.

We drove away,
her fragrance filling my head
as I made up my mind - -
she would be okay.

~ginger brame ©1989


  1. Beautiful story. And very appropriate as we come up on Mother's Day. I'm thinking a lot about my Mom, and very grateful she is alive and that we have time to spend together. Thanks for sharing your Mom moment. Hugs, Vicki

  2. What a cute story!!! thank you for sharing!


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