Memory is like incense: as the censor passes, so does the intensity of the aroma, leaving only faint wisps. The substance is ephemeral, becoming vague and imprecise with the passing of time.
No gathering in of the incense of our past can reveal a precise picture or bring back the past in such a way that we can lay hold of it. It inevitably slips through our fingers. But the wisps of memory that surround us--like the smell of brewing coffee or a pungent perfume--have the power to delight or disgust, to influence our present and shape our future.
These poems uncover scraps of an ordinary story told with as much truth and substance as the incense of memory can evoke; ordinary in that the struggle between discontentment and serenity, fear and confidence, gravity and humor, conflict and reconciliation, disappointment and fulfillment, sadness and joy, death and life, is the natural topography of our humanity.