MEMORY CARE by Scott Hayworth

By this time I have forgotten the smell of her linoleum,

The oily organic vapors clinging near the floor

That trapped the nicotine ash and tars & only partly reflected

The sunbeams from the window, kept most of the yellow ones,

Sent back the white & held hostage the rest.

Plus the suggestion of salty grease from the electric skillet

& the essence of Lysol from the bathroom off the kitchen.

It’s hard to place the scent of that linoleum.


They said her Christmas presents smelled like mothballs,

But I don’t remember that. Mothballs, the wool-wearers

Last defense, WMDs from the age when American chemical companies

Ruled the Earth. The moths they would hate & they would kill.

They might get a few of us along w/ them, some got cancers, sure,

But there would be no tiny holes in the sleeves of our burial suits.

I don’t know any more what they smelled like. Naphthalene, maybe.

Or maybe paradichlorobenzene.


I last saw Aunt Dixie at Bailey Place in the skilled nursing part.

Her brain was sick, maybe also a touch of lymphoma. She had been taken there

Not long after the neighbors saw her roaming Dewey Avenue

In her underwear. The medicine inhalers smelling awful

Or the stinks of disinfectants or detergents or saltless food

Or crepe shoe-soles or linens or diapers or exhausted

Women or men or words that people spoke-half-whispered

(spend-down Hospice memory care) brought hot water to my eyes.

Scott Hayworth, Kentucky USA, works as a lawyer.