olfactory memory

i’m sixty-seven. my birthday is in two weeks. i’m at a knitting club, sitting across from a woman 3 years my junior. she works here at the rec part-time. i’m retired and filling in my schedule with community hobby clubs.

“And your husband? she asks, needles sorting through tight loops.

“I’m a widow.”

Her hand pauses mid-air. She looks down. “Oh.”

I change the subject. I hate the awkward that follows after being asked.

“Why is it that once us women turn sixty, everything we buy smells like potpourri? My car scents, my perfume…It’s like we want to announce we’re OLD in more ways than one.”

She chuckles. “This is why I do not buy into artificial smell-good bath-and-body bullshit.”

I laugh now.

She continues: “My husband passed two years ago. I miss him, but not the smell of him.”

The other women who’ve been sitting in silence to the side of us smile.

“Maybe we should start a Widows Who Knit Club.” The women stop smiling. They do not want to be excluded even more than they don’t want to yet be widowed.

Her turn to change the subject now. “Ever had a memory present itself as a scent?”

“Do you get a whiff of your husband’s smell now that he passed now, Linda?” I joked.

“No– I mean, yes, but no. I just mean, like it takes you back to a specific time or place…”

“Yes, yes. It happens to me all the time. It’s somehow subtle, though stronger than anything I could attempt to smell. It’s because it triggers our emotional body. Back in my twenties, I used to smell an ex’s scent while I was trying to move on. One ex’s house smelled like dust, wet wood, and mothballs…A difficult person and hard smell to get over.” My husband had such a faint, clean smell. I can picture his face so clearly at any age, but never can I recall what he smelled like.

The ladies laughed comfortably, realizing we aren’t pivoting out of the club, and started sharing their own olfactory memories.

Linda looks at me with sad eyes. Knowing eyes.

You miss his smell the most, don’t you? they said.

She puts down her craft supplies, and scoots her chair closer to me.

“Come over for tea soon, yes?” I notice she’s wearing a bulky man’s watch.

“Only if there’s oolong.”

She rolls her eyes. “Bring your own tea bags, then.”

purgatory

8.23.2019.

a lady holding onto her

husband’s arm. he has

one closed eye, a cigarette

sticking out of his mouth,

and a slanted grin.

as long as they’re together,

they skip on heavenly clouds.

a man with bright blonde hair,

wearing a backback decorated in dirt.

he looks at me like we’re past life

friends.

life is a series of karmic lessons,

we all go up or low.

will you live in this physical world,

or will you become its victim?

sadness reigns when we are

addicted to its drama.

nurture your woes so

you can pass

Purgatory.

Purpose in Purses

2.26.2019.

hoarding all of my assumed

necessities in a pink Coach bag.

where’s my vape? she asked.

leaning against a table as two

heavy Kate Spades smack me,

their blonde owners rush

towards smiling faces.

i slip away from the table, and return to another hit by another Kate whose owner is a tall, hostile beauty.

all unbothered.

i turn, and socialize

with sarcastic quips

and emotional exclaims.

i piece together the dots

in my mental bulletin board.

signs of the past, hints of the

upcoming, but most of all:

my own shallow worries in

full focus.

new genuine friends,

and easy laughter.

i reflect on the good.

clarity is in every nervous gulp of air.

me with my asides and

unkempt hair.

me with black

heeled Oxfords

among

Old Skool Vans.

She is pending.

a quarter late.

psycho

2.19.2019.

the pause before
the scene begins:

a white
blank
screen.

i scream in my head,
yet smile delicately.

American Psycho appears

on the TV.

“you’re crazy.”

paralyzing fear has me
wrapping my body with my arms.

i’m sitting next to
an opportunist.

my dreamworld is a
distorted reality.

“i’m psycho,” said with a laugh.

i try to be a loyalist to
American millennials.

my anger is my fuel to
recreate my journey.

be authentic, angels say.

i gently pull back pieces
of hair from my face.

there is more than this fear.
there is Light.

and it skips around
in the same hopeful
rhythm as me.

it is my living dreams.

“love and light.”

screen goes dark.

the human experience

6.20.2019. location: bored, sitting on a bar stool.

we’re all licking the same bottle of beer.

having epiphanies on love.

thinking out of lust.

same eyes, peeking at things in grandeur.

i love the Idea, not the reality.

politics matter!

bullshitting to deflect in all circumstances.

let me tell you a funny story:

i am more than i show!

to be human

7.16.2020.

we spoke of

obligations

when the door opened, leading one out.

a sunny day.

fled to seek Detachment.

a bug snuck in and circled around us.

i two-stepped as others ran near it in rage.

we’re no longer barbarians, yet

we still must kill what disturbs us.

our fingernails have purple polish on them since the world told us we were

royalty without title.

the human experience says

live exactly like each other

and when together,

discuss your conformity.

devoid of depth.

jokes on

unsatisfactory feelings with life,

not knowing it’s their soul

trying to reach consciousness.

restless sleep:

blame technology and

blame loneliness.

the door opens, and we see

two unknowns have come back.

they say Detachment isn’t for them.

comfortable with Earth.

“we’re only human,” they say.

 

 

mask

8.16.2020.

a trigger is an unhealed wound,” i tell her.

“what aren’t you unhealed from?”she accuses, deadpan.

self-deprecation stories in resharable relatability:

vulnerability has been meme’d.

our shadow side is seen as an Evil to be repressed.

creativity is then blocked. art becomes pieces of unoriginality intertwined with undeserved superiority.

self-righteousness is a balancing act with self-pity.

who wins the battle in a lack of humility?

a face covering lays inside a package on their doorstep. “feels uncomfortable” is the thought.

their own mask — designed and rehearsed — awaits for the next performance.

a decision is made to be desensitized further.

but, this one is new.

another mask.

ghosts

6.13.2019.

green on our mind.

materialism is all we seek.

shoot your shot.

beer pong mentality.

fun over fulfillment.

shake your ass.

be liked by everyone!

sleep little at night.

groupthink is the routine.

fancy attire. big smiles.

areyouhappy?areyouhappy?

disappear if it’s too hard.

on people. on places.

we’re obligated to no one

but ourselves.

fight for your independence.

and your peace.

tell your friends,

YES!

tell your love interests,

see you when i care.

career over companionship.

i am all that i can trust.

we’re not human.

we’re ghosts.

grateful

6.25.2019.

i used to tell myself

i had big eyes to See

what others cannot.

a tiny mouth to whisper

secrets or say it all

in one breath.

talk fast.

the thoughts that plagued

me stared at my profile.

they wonder when i’ll

fall again, claiming

to feel my low

vibration, tempting me

into another runaway scheme.

i find reasons to laugh

when I’m feeling off.

you’re distracted, they

say, as if reporting a scandal.

but i know

growth happens in waves.

all that’s unwell is temporary.

the broken

ones aren’t my responsibility.

in the cycles and the phases

of my

highs and lows, i am

most earnestly grateful.