The Suitcase

A bit of a sad poem about the power that smells have to evoke memory.

The Suitcase

When I was thirteen, my school arranged a trip

to explore the peaks and valleys of the Lake District.

Three hour walks through hostile weather

to spend our nights in hostel bunk-beds: what joy.

Consider the geological wonder of the rock formations

they said.

Mess around with your mates

thought I.

But aching, rain-soaked limbs were a price worth paying

for a week’s worth of sleepovers.

Mum scraped round to find the money,

a fiver saved from shopping,

a tenner earned with extra hours,

to nurture what she hoped were the first green shoots

of a love for school and learning.

Enough was found to pay for the trip, but not for a new suitcase

and despite my selfish whining,

a battered survivor of holidays from years gone by,

was lifted down, in a dusty cloud, from a cupboard top.

Left alone in my bedroom to pack my ironed clothes,

I opened the lid and straight away found myself elsewhere. 

Transported through time to another place 

by the smell of the beach, a caravan 

and my father’s aftershave.

I closed my eyes to blank out senses of the present

so that I might be the me of four years past.

When we were three not two

And I was not aware that summer skies

can quickly turn to grey.

I remembered the wrap of towels and strong arms

that dried the sea from my body

and the way the vinegar on our chips

made my mouth water.

Playing board-games in the caravan,

with the rain drumming on the windows.

Dad’s grip on my hand as the roller coaster

reached the top and began its downward swoop.

One salt-water tear glistened on my cheek

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