Basil, Babcock Peaches, and Salt Air

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I want to drown in the fragrance of my grandparents’ house.
To be enveloped by the aroma of Italian Santa Barbara.
The scents exist only in that corner abode.
I have searched,
but have been unable to find it anywhere else:
the bright bouquet
of basil, Babcock peaches, and salt air.

When they visit, their clothes, their blanched hair
possess the perfume.
I inhale,
take a deep breath-dose
before it begins to dissipate.

They’d rather be home among soothing saline breezes,
away from the harsh valley gusts.
Grandpa observes our weakling lemon tree
struggling to live in the choking clay dirt
and dreams
of his white-fleshed fruit trees thriving in black soil.

It’s what saved him — the earth — the doctors said,
after his stroke.
No nurse’s deep kneading,
mechanically flexing his limbs,
could match the therapy
of tilling his own garden.

My grandma eagerly anticipates
the gathering of pale peaches for pies
and the drying of basil for ragu.
She carefully cuts shoots for my mother,
who wishes to match the recipe,
to replicate a taste of her old home.
My grandparents once tried to bring their harvest,
but the delicate crop was too fragile —
spoiled by the drive.

Time remains remorseless in its passing;
Incessantly stealing the physical.
In return,
it bequeaths an inheritance of the senses —
tender remembrances
of basil, Babcock peaches, and salt air.


Originally published in @HumanParts @Medium.com

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