The first man took the vanilla balm
I'd dotted behind my right ear.
I misplaced it on his collar
when he gave me the spicy smell of his shampoo.
Our heads had leaned into one another,
a bead of his sweat kissing my temple.
Unbeknown to me, the second man
took the cocoa butter off my arm during a quick boleo,
the faster milonga music hurrying our steps.
In the third man's close embrace,
sweat grabbed my dress fabric
and cucumber fresh deodorant seeped out.
I never smelled it again.
Somewhere in the fourth, fifth, sixth man,
I lost the Rainforest scent of my shampoo,
and late in the evening
even the smell of my strawberry lipgloss disappeared.
I gained musky deodorants,
clean aftershaves, fresh colognes.
They masked the odor of my sweat
as my own perfumes had intended.
After the tenth man placed
the last corsage of scent upon me,
the parade came to an end.
As I twirled for the final time into my car,
the flip of my dress sent a myriad
of lingering exchanges about me.
(Four hours, ten dancing partners later,
I was a stranger to myself.)
The evening’s first-donned scents
tarried elsewhere, in others’ cars
separated from me and one another
going to their new homes.
first published in Third Wednesday. Summer 2014, Vol. 6, Issue 3. Print.
(nominated for The Pushcart Prize)