'Smell', a new poem by Thomas Shapcott

Underneath everything we touch is the smell
Of something too obvious to express
And yet we say there is nothing, nothing at all.

We have learned to live with a multitude of smells,
They simply do not bother us, they are everyday
And part of the natural world we have inherited.

There is nothing more obvious than the smell of living,
It is like movement, and, like movement, it is everywhere.
Like sweat it is ourselves, only the language is different.

The smell of dying is also everywhere.
Why do we hide it with cosmetics?
We are appalled. Why are we appalled?

The earth is moving. Such a short while we are here.
Every smell is somehow precious.
We cannot afford to be choosy. There is nothing to deny.

Published in March 2014, no. 359
Thomas Shapcott

Thomas Shapcott

Thomas Shapcott is an Australian poet, novelist, playwright, editor, librettist, short story writer and teacher. He has received numerous rewards and accolades for his work, and in 1989 was appointed an Officer (AO) of the Order of Australia.