Nostril hairs rebelling
I cross the threshold
of  her house thinking
that compassion must
prevail over matter;
I must confess to a slight cheat,
cocktail of eucalyptus,
peppermint, citrus, melaleucca
oily underneath my nose,
aromatherapy for my soul,
yet waves of death, cat
and dog piss and shit
and piles of nonspecific mess
assault my complete sensorium,
“don’t forget to breathe
or you’ll be giddy,”
I whisper to myself.

I brave the kitchen first,
she says she wants
the cupboard doors wiped
clean, I wander through
a swamp of empty food tins,
food scraps, dirty plates
knives and forks,
damp yellowed newspaper;
I spy a mouse long mummified,
the window’s covered in greasy paper
cobwebs festoon the frame,
with spiders fiercely black
abdomens thumbnail size
begin to run disturbed
as I begin to sweep
to let the daylight in …
and tell her that it will be fine,
together we will get there…
and I try not to hold my breath …


10 thoughts on “Stench

  1. Wow, such a graphic image of visiting the home of a true horder. It is only in descriptions like this that some can truly appreciate the difference between a clutterer and horder.
    If this is based on true life events, you have my admiration! Great writing.

  2. The images of ur friend’s plight and yours will remain w. me for a long time. A powerful catharsis…and I’m glad it’s done for your sake!

  3. Such a strong sense of your ambivalence in this graphic poem Marsha ~ illustrated to perfection by your final line. It feels as if writing your experience out has enabled you to take a huge breath in again. Very, very powerful write 🙂

  4. Wow, breathing in the stench. Strong stuff. It almost sounds like the home of an alcoholic or drug addict–a very depressing scenario and that is a challenging kind of compassion to reach out like you did. 🙂

  5. As I read your current entry for dVerse, my eye caught the title here…and I read on… You were quite courageous to tackle such a feat. Hoarders are a sad bunch…they can’t help themselves. They do need help.

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