Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Nosy Interview: Courtney Mandryk

 Courtney in HH-222: The Waterfall Nebula, © Z. Levay, T.A. Rector, & H. Schweiker

Courtney and I met at the University of Michigan, probably first at a welcome-students barbecue. But I better remember a later barbecue where she gave me one of the nicest compliments I have ever received, one that managed to be both morbid and effusive (a combination I often aim to achieve). She makes beautiful things; you can see for yourself at MOTHDRAWN.

What Do You Smell Like to Smell

Cilantro of August, calendula into September,
the pink cream I rubbed on the bites of October.
Now the leaves are holding onto their sugars,
the leaves are letting go of their branches.

The fire is lit. My black dog's warm fur-smell
is of fleece blankets inside of a dryer, a womb.
My gun dog has always smelled like the pound she came from.
I wonder if the dogs smelled the baby through my skin.

My boy was born already not smelling like me.
He smells warmer, a smell beyond me: church incense under Burt's Bees.
Today he made a painting using apples for a brush,
the smell of apple juice and tempera heart-shapes on paper, 2011.

I am the dirt the rain kicks up.
I used to press my nose to window screens in a storm
when I thought rain was the smell of its metallic mesh.

I smell like sun-dried clothing - I smell like clothing half-dried in the rain.
I smell syrup and chlorine on my wrists when I'm afraid.

I dislike the smell of hamburgers and teenagers
and teenagers' painful perfumes even though I have smelled that way.

Stephen smells like a pencil box.
I have never owned a pencil box. I never knew him as a teen.
I never knew him in his twenties.
My furnace husband, the stronger heart that heats a room.
He is right now somewhere in the fields
tending a fire in the rain, rain-face dripping.

I want to be the smell of ginkgo and coconut but I am not that coconut girl,
though sometimes I want to take my arms and whip them around
and around like a helicopter.

I am the smell of skunks far away on a summer night's drive.
I am tomato plants bowing in the garden.
I am leaves loud on the sidewalk.
Original chapstick. A match just blown.
When I smell basil I know I am home.

Now the gun dog smells of rot she found by the pond.
The boy smells of pee and a hot Midwestern sky,
his breath the scent of Elmer's glue.
Now there is a flower blooming that smells like the day is done
but I can't find it in the fields to cut it down.


Unknown said...

Um... I need to know what the morbid & effusive compliment was!

Beth Mattson said...

OMG! Beautiful poem, and, WOAH, I wonder if the dogs smelled the baby under my skin!!?!?!?

courtney mandryk said...

thank you elizabeth for allowing me to post. (and wow i wish i remembered which barbeque compliment this was!)

JoanElaine said...

Lovely post and a very interesting blog. I love reading about personal scent memories, likes and dislikes, and associations.
I'll be catching up on the Nosy Girl achives!

Christine Hartzler Woodruff said...

"the stronger heart" -- so lovely. Courtney, I love this poem so much.

Preets said...

Back on Nosy Girl for the first time in too long and I find this waiting for me! What a gem, Courtney, what a treat. Thank you thank you thank you. I shall read it again and again.

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