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"An ode to the Nose" Poems from NaPoWriMo 2022 Day Six

Art by Ellen Terry

An ode to the Nose by Meenu Maria Jose

The nose is the ugly duckling

in the face family.

The black sheep.

Every other part of the face

has million-dollar companies

selling out lipsticks, eyeliners,

highlighters and the like

to make it pretty.

But the nose is that poor kid

in school in a tattered uniform

and snot, trying to fit in.

For two years now, our noses

have been living as refugees in

the tent of our masks due to Covid.

They are back in their homeland now,

smelling frangipani flowers,

smoke coughing out of trucks

and following the wafting scent

of caramel popcorn sizzling in theatres.

Somedays, my nose believes it's

a flute made of skin and cartilage,

like something the pied piper

would use to lure children.

It likes luring my body to my

mother's rajma chawal on

the days I'm sick.

But I know that what my nose

liked best was burying into books

and finding validation and home there

that it couldn't find anywhere else.

Having spent its days nosing

through the hallways of Hogwarts,

my nose is convinced that in

the fight between good and evil,

the nose is the most important weapon.

Why else do you think

Voldemort lost his battle?

My nose was god's afterthought by Srishti Saharia

i wake up to the face my ancestors

brought with them— stubborn eyes

that refuse the refuge of UV-tinted

tents of prescription glasses,

instead borrow light from the blind;

sleep is their only language of prayer.

my morbid mouth is sinking deeper

with every peck of moonrise into

the bird nest of my throat to

incubate the hunger for guilt and

forgiveness inside my body.

my mother's hand on my forehead

is the eraser of my ancestors' misery.

my ears have rented silence on

an expired lease— the sound

i fear is the only sound they hear.

my nose is sitting in the centre

of this poem like a prey waiting

to be devoured, or a bleeding bible

that doesn't know its religion;

this nose, it feeds on april's feasts,

snorts pollens and political poems

for a jovial high in springs;

my nose pokes patriarchy at

the shin and ends up bloody

and broken too often;

it dreads to decipher

the scent of loss from

love because it has inherited

the tender tendency to 'mis-smell'

one from the other;

the famine of forgetting the smell

of my history is plaguing my nose.

my nose was god's afterthought—

hurried and incomplete,

stuffed between the eyes and mouth

like foreign vowels forced

amidst confused consonants;

its bridge from where my pride goes skinny-dipping early in the morning

is arranged to pose as a question—

an anathema or a crucifix?

the tip has an awareness of its own,

it flinches at the smell of grieving gods

living inside the bodies of decaying girls.

the river of my ancestors' bones

in my nose, the only source of light,

is clogging my ability to sniff out

the rogue ruins from the royal realms.

i want to get the septum pierced

but need is the hierarchy inside my mind

and i do not need to kill my mother.

there is a love poem waiting to

be written about the mole on

the left edge of my nose

[where all the treasures of

my self-love is stashed]

and i am a poet,

of course i am conceited enough

to conceive one myself.

and so i write tonight,

to my ancestors this angry

attempt at an apology from

the longest-held breath and

the deepest of my dreams

with a sigh from my belly

that has morphed into ink,

because this nose?

it is one of the buttons of

god's own baby-blue linen

shirt that she hand-picked

and sewed on to my face,

the kind she planted on

my mother's face,

and i owe every seed of

moment in the womb of this earth

to that round, little button which in

its turn only owes me the request

of my last breath to be baptized

a bullet and to consent

to the desire of living through

death when the time comes

riding on the back of a fair mare

to knock on the doors of

my chest to elope with the flesh

and wounds of my heart

to the heavens.

— excuse my self-hatred, please

A Nose Ring's Ode to the Nose by Khatija Khan

The first time i met you was on an ordinary summer afternoon

in bombay bazar's scrounging heat

where little boys were waving their stiff handkerchiefs

near the pale old shikanji stall

which played Jagjit singh's ghazals on F.M

and a young couple was biting snow cones dipped in black currant syrup from disposable paper cups.

you, walking towards me, were a temple

I, a muslim, was so curious to enter

that i could hear riots storming in you, on you, around you, already in my head. there was a bloodshed when you held me in your palanquin, stains of pain filled every chowk we walked through together and i heard tremor-like sobs underneath your skin.

the next day when the war decreased to its aftermath (pomegranate seeds squeezed), we swam unconsciously in bubbling lakes of coconut oil and drank our vitamins from the navy blue parachute bottle.

each time i rotated around you, i discovered my axis through your 2 mm diameter pinhole again and again. all the goblets of air you inhaled were for the magical universe i was ringed around with a mighty white bead that added honour to me while you added honour to it, compensating it the right to make you look pretty. then on friday and saturday nights we wore lacto calamine and vaseline to shimmer the whole next week and create a syzygy of a courageous nose and a jingling nose ring.

please accept my apology for the days you turned into a rotten jujube and sobbed silently under heavy breaths. the days when you looked like a shrunken raisin and ached for air, air and air quietly without taunting me. i am so sorry for all those times when your olfactory indicators refused to respond to the fragrance of your favourite ice-cream due to the ache of holding me but we still ended up together like happily ever afters just because you kept me close to yourself.

i confirmed that you and i glued together, are hashtag soulmates, hashtag made for each other, hashtag couple goals, the day when a lady complimented both of us. "goddamn", she said as if we were the chartbusters of the whole body, as if we rocked the show without actually singing.

i bet you never imagined what life is going to grow into if you ever give up on it. without you, the universe will succumb into a tiny whit.

names, places, animals and everything will sear into nothing.

without you, the world will lose its face. people will have all the oxygen, all the nitrogen but without you, they will lose their breath.

and i? i will be useless.

i will lose my homeland.

If it weren't for noses, true love would go untested by Avni Aryan

I'm sitting in granny's verandah

when the smell of her syrupy malpua

reach my olfactory receptors and suddenly,

I'm flying barefoot into her kitchen,

only to return with oily fingers, happy tummy and satiated brain.

And I think my father secretly admires

the way I've a skill to detect

if the greens are cooking

and accordingly plan my unhealthy snack before dinner.

Have you ever wondered how incomplete the food experience would be without the smell?

MasterChef judges roaming around in their big, scent-less kitchens with one parameter stricken off their list to judge dishes on,

Your brilliant, straight-out-of-oven brownies

without the sweet smell of cocoa sugar,

Your morning Adrak chai

without the comforting 'khushbu' of ginger,

Your favourite mutton biryani

without the aroma of heavenly spices.

(I bet finding an Elaichi then would make you madder than it does now

when you know it didn't even contribute to the wholesome whiff before the first bite.)

I sometimes subconsciously notice

deviated nasal septa in people sitting in waiting rooms

and wonder what the shape the fog would take in a cold spatula test.

The nose is a wondrous creation,

A boy I loved once called my nose 'cute'

I've observed in the mirror that I've a little button nose

that my aunties used to pull when I was kid,

which automatically scrunches up when I disapprove of something

and which quietly suffers the tyranny of blackhead removal strips every once in a while,

which runs & loses its function during an episode of rhinosinusitis and still never complains

of how irresponsible I'm with ice candies during winters

and which comfortably squishes

to perfectly fit against the long nose of the boy

who kisses me gently, softly, lovingly.

If it weren't for noses, you wouldn't have your personal little air conditioning system that regulates the temperature of the cold breeze of December as well as the hot loo of May that you breath in,

If it weren't for noses, Voldemort wouldn't stand out,

(we'd all be just pure bred Slytherin descendants)

If it weren't for noses, there'd be no hair lined cleansing system to protect you against your pollen allergies,

If it weren't for noses, true love would go untested because of the inability to determine

survival skills in the morning breaths & sweat pits

of the person

you love.

Nose serves to pour life in your otherwise dead being by Farida Rangwala

Such a deliberate thing

Is the nose that adorns your face,

Sometimes breathes freely

And sometimes strangles on its choice

I wonder there are even types,

Too busy to know your need,

So flexible to welcome themselves,

To give their judgments

In any place, even they ain't required.

Is an awkward moment for the lovers

When interrupts their first peck,

Then turns it innocently,

Into a giggling Eskimo kiss.

Walks hand in hand with you in the utopia

Drenched in the fragrance of spring,

Also reminds you to escape

From the litter of any kind.

Its place is higher than your mouth

Thus more sophisticated,

Gets to inhale the aroma of your food

Before it could reach your tongue.

But lower than your eyes

So less manifested,

Doesn't get the privilege

To behold the colors splashing in the world.

But this doesn't make it any trivial

For it serves to pour life,

In your otherwise dead being.

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