Issue Twenty-Nine - Winter 2017

A Way to Measure Smell

By Leonie Mikele Fogle

My father smelled of computer paper,

shirt-collar anger when he came home.
He climbed the stairs and I thought he would turn to leave,
but he only put his coat and hat away into the closet.

By the time my mother smelled like herbs
in the afternoons, she was lying on the couch, the blinds loose.
My sister and I came home from school
and her thin sheet of tears smelled like garlic.

Our house was small—it was only a few strides
down the hall to go from the scent of my sister’s baby curls
to her bedroom, but in a few years or maybe yards,
she climbed through her mosquito-screen window
onto the flat roof of our carport
and drove away.

For a few days in the spring,
my bedroom smelled like the pesticide our neighbor sprayed
on his cherry trees. On other days it smelled of magazine print
and paperback spines, my collections of stories.

I pulled on tights and leotard in the hall bathroom,
where heat from the floor vent smelled like dust.
By the time I was painting blisters with tincture of iodine,
binding my toes with surgical tape, by the time I was darning
half-circles of the tips of my pointe shoes, sewing peach ribbons

into the inner canvas—by the time I left for good,
I couldn’t smell anything, at all.

Copyright Fogle 2017