A Certain Fragrance, Risen Darkly From the Earth

Dear Ms. Feverfew –

I came across this poem many years ago, when I was first learning to navigate a Post-You world. Parts of this gorgeous poem by the Chilean poet Neruda resonated with me then. The words still resonate with me now.

I love all of my children without complexities or pride. As I have told you before and will most likely tell you again sometime in the future, I love you simply because you are, just as I love all of the children I have borne into this world. It is a straightforward love I hope you someday experience with your own children. But there is something unique about the love I have for you, as I have spent many years loving you in secret. My other children – I do not have to love them in secret. I do not have to apologize or explain my fierce devotion. It is expected. Celebrated. Embraced.

But you…when I speak of this same fierce devotion to you and your well-being, backs stiffen and straighten, creases form across foreheads, and lips draw tight into wan smiles.

I am told by others I should “get over it”, I should “move on”, I should “let go.”

But I know no other way to love my children.

Even you. To love you differently would diminish my capacity to love my other children. To love you any less would make me less of a person. I cannot “get over” you or “move on” from you any more than I could “get over” Captain Knuckle,  or “move on” from The Professor, or “let go” of Princess P.  I lack the ability to do so.

Some relinquishing mothers seem to have the capacity to celebrate “getting over” their relinquished child. They seem to relish “moving on” with such a gusto, it is unsettling to observers of the situation. However, I am not one of them. I have never been one of them. I will never be one of them.

That certain fragrance, that unconditional earthy-scented secret love Neruda speaks of – that is the smell of the crown of your head the day you were born. When I would lay in bed with you nursing in those first tender days, you and I were simply us. Just as it was with each of my babies.

And because I know no other way than this, with much love  –


I do not love you as if you were salt-rose or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms,
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers.
Thanks to your love a certain fragrance,
risen darkly from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where,
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride,
so I love you because I know no other way than this:
where “I” does not exist, nor “you,”
So close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
So close that your eyes close and I fall asleep.

-Pablo Neruda

12 thoughts on “A Certain Fragrance, Risen Darkly From the Earth

  1. “To love you differently would diminish my capacity to love my other children.”
    Gasp! You have vocalised this so well… I could never put it into words but this! This is exactly how I feel!

    Stunning poem and I agree with Suzie, beautiful post.

    • It makes me wonder about those natural mothers who feel they need to “other” their relinquished child(ren), and qualify their love for them as “different” than for their parented ones. More importantly, it makes me wonder about their relinquished child(ren) and how it must feel from their point of view to be told they aren’t loved the same as or as much as the kept children. It must be heartbreaking…

      And then I think of those natural mothers who claim to have that sentiment and wonder how they came to be that way and what will happen to them when the adoption anesthesia wears off, when they awaken to the true loss they are facing. My heart hurts for them, as I know it will be a difficult recovery process.

  2. Everyone says mothers should love their children.

    Except for the ones who were relinquished, of course, as if these children are not worth or the same as the ones who were kept.

    It is so incredibly hypocritical.

  3. What an absolutely lovely post! Should you ever wonder why I love you, or if you are even loveable (as on some rare occasions, you do) just read your post again.

    • Oh my gosh!!! Sometimes I forget you read this blog, too, JoeBob. Now I am sitting here crying – the good kind. I cannot even begin to express how your love for me has been a salve to my hurting heart. Thank you for your unyielding patience and belief in me. I love you.

      All of me –


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