Iowa Writes

Uncle Bernie

I carry memories in my nose and I smelled Uncle Bernie today. Dead for eight years, his essence was upon me when the sleeping man on the bench at the bus stop shifted as if in search of a pillow. In college I learned that bodies with dying livers metabolize alcohol into acetone. Acetone has a yellow smell, one that reminds me how special I felt when Bernie, a pastry chef, brought warm cinnamon buns to my birthday party. I am fond of that smell. Unlike Brussels sprouts, which smell like the nursing home where he died.

About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

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Kristin Kalsem received her J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School and her B.A. and Ph.D. (English) from the University of Iowa. She joined the faculty of the University of Cincinnati's College of Law in 2001.  She co-directs (with Professor Verna Williams) UC's joint degree program in Law and Women's Studies, a program that was the first of its kind and for which the College of Law is nationally known.

This poem originally appeared in Volume 5, Number 1 of 100 Words, a journal published by the University of Iowa's International Writing Program between 1993 and 1998. Each piece in the journal had to be 100 words or fewer, and each issue had a theme. This issue's theme was "On Memory."

This page was first displayed
on March 21, 2008

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