Feeling the way

My bedroom in El Salvador
overlooked the courtyard,
carrying scents of beans and coffee,
sounds of laughter and tortilla-slapping.

I walked to school with friends,
slowly so we wouldn’t sweat,
past five Catholic churches,
as bus after bus passed by.

In fall, I began college in a Colorado
feedlot town, my classmate’s room
in a dorm redolent of socks
lined with Braille bilingual dictionaries.

On winter days, white canes
were useless, muffled by snow.
Once in a while, I’d catch a whiff
reminding me of my far-off home,
reveling in bus exhaust and garbage.


While preparing for a workshop on “Aromapoetry,” I thought about the way smells trigger memories.
To this day, the smell of scorched tortillas makes me euphoric.


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