scent [poem]

I first noticed my odd olfactory overdrive
back in high school
the way my sensitive taste buds and scent seeking skills
went hand in hand
sometimes that sucked
teenage boys not always choosing hygiene
but instead embracing layers
of sweat and deodorant and body spray
I could smell those layers
not just the ocean of their stench
but each grain of sand touching it
needless to say I hated summer
but the years are kind
and adult men seem more inclined to bathing
thank you
but still
people have their own scent
a symphony of bathroom habits
and favorite detergents
and borrowed gum
I often inhale comfort in the presence of familiar smells
patchouli bringing forward the hint of magic folk
spiced tea always reminding me of mom
and petrichor making me hum with energy like a dizzy raindrop
scent can be unkind though
that one deodorant reminds me
of my ex-husband’s cheating hands and
the antiseptic cleanliness of a hospital
causes my heart to race with fear at the memory of panicked visits
and marijuana still holds a dangerous edge
of uncontrolled violence from a clouded mind
it’s all about balance
I’ve learned how to breathe through my mouth
how to purge a scent from my nose
the moment I realize it’s a trigger
I’ve found ways to connect old smells with new memories
erasing those triggers bit by bit with normal moments
I’m even finding new perfumes that make me
smile and relax and sigh
this weird talent isn’t so much a burden
as an untrained skill

-poem by Larissa Lee
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