Breathing These Days

I have noticed that things have started to smell.
A mixture of mother's perfume and your clean hair,
the break of seasons and nasal spray,
damp pillowcases, chicken soup and sleep.

At first, I imagined it was my own doing, something leaking out of my pours
but then I caught it on your collar and I was sure it belonged to you
but you had never smelled that way before,
and then it bit me on the staircase and I thought, it must be the weather
but the weather is forever changing and it still sits about my room
like dust and acquaintances trying on my clothing
in the doorway, in the hallway, by my mirror.

It was waiting for me after dinner
and it walked me home while you held my other hand.
It was between my body and the comforter when you crawled drunkenly into my arms
and it was there in the morning when I was alone,
it nestled my lips and made me quiver
it is the reason for my trash-can full of tissues
I have been trying to blow it away,
but it rubs its belly against my mouth and makes my eyes water
and it refuses to be refined to shoe-boxes or closets.

No, it has licked my entire world
so I am waiting, complacently, for a strong wind.
But, if it let me have my way, I would prefer to breathe new breath
sucked through the uncontaminated lungs of distant friends up north
who know nothing of this humid smell
which rots between us like tree limbs and wet dandelions.

Jessica Sitnick