THE PERFUME I NEVER
GAVE MY MOTHER
by Gail Peck
I bought in France. A beautifully embossed bottle
called Ombre Rose. Her lungs had worsened,
and when I arrived by her bedside, I knew
she’d never wear the perfume, so I brought it home
where it sits on my bathroom shelf.
I once read to hold the bottle at arms-length and spray
then walk through the mist. Some might think this a waste.
Instead think flowers—rose, violet, jasmine, lavender,
and the potent plumeria. Think desire—someone holding you
or someone who once held you. Think youth—
a life ahead, not petals falling.
How my mother loved flowers. They grew easily
for her. I bought her many vases, and shears
she’d constantly misplace. Always an arrangement
on her table that could take your breath away.
Gail Peck is the author of eight books of poetry including The
Braided Light, which won the Lena Shull Book Contest from
the North Carolina Poetry Society in 2015. Peck’s poems and
essays have also appeared in The Southern Review, Nimrod,
The Greensboro Review, Brevity, Comstock, Stone Voices,
and elsewhere. Her essay “Child Waiting,” which first appeared
in the Spring 2012 issue of the Apple Valley Review, was cited
as a notable essay in Best American Essays 2013.
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Apple Valley Review:
A Journal of Contemporary
Volume 14, Number 1
Copyright © 2019
by Leah Browning, Editor.
All future rights to material
published in the Apple
Valley Review are retained
by the individual authors