Monday, March 26, 2012

Tar, Young and Bitten: Nostalgia

With the temperature at 77--low humidity, and a soft breeze coming off the ocean--how could I have even thought of not going out this morning! If I had stayed in, I would have missed the sweetly acrid smell of tar. The roofers were working on a building on Meridian Avenue. I smelled tar before I saw the tar truck.

These trucks were common when I was growing up. We children, who played on the streets, would watch the glossy black tar heat and stream from the trucks. Nothing more glossy except, maybe, patent leather. We liked the filthy trucks. I like them still. It's possible to become nostalgic for almost anything, even mosquitoes, not that I want to actually go back to the past. Last week I wrote this nostalgic poem:

Young and Bitten

We had so much to give—pennies, kisses,

blood mosquitoes love. We would let them land

on the back of a hand kept still and watch

the frail, tiny body fill and darken.

It was always twilight. The wings blue,

the legs weightless. Always we were quiet.

We’d let them fly off with nothing we would

grandly call “life.” Curiosity

made us generous. We’d go home tired,

in the air ripe with wings, bitten and young,

in the shadows of leaves, in the smell of phlox,

in the soft dark, in the world where we fit.

Tell me about your bouts of nostalgia?


  1. I remember that smell--a summer smell. And a summer poem. Need that warmth today.

  2. Must be decades since last smelled tar for me.

    After thinking a couple of minutes to pick me a single object which reminds me of the past, have to admit, that all of a sudden, there are countless appearing.

    I shall continue that thought and thank you for this exercise. Please have a good Tuesday.

  3. Yes, Ellen, always in the summer: that smell of tar. Hard frost predicted in Boston area tonight. I hear the Boston weather report here in Florida.

    Countless, Robert.

  4. That's a beautiful poem, Mim.

  5. Thank you, Sarah. Do all kids let the mosquitoes bite?

  6. I, too, love the smell of tar. I didn't use to, when I was little. But over the years I've grown to liking it. It means renovation, change, revival.

    I loved your poem and what I liked the most was the fact that the subject matter was the most un-romantic of all: mosquitoes. Hate them and yet, in your beautiful lines they became for a few seconds creatures to behold.

    Greetings from London.

  7. Hello, Cuban in London:

    I'm so glad you like the poem. Any subject matter--no, not praise for Nazis and their ilk--will do if we can get the lines right, if only we can.

    Warm regards from South Beach