free verse


She knows
how all the months smell.
I think she likes May the best
because of the lilies
growing in the flower beds.
November is the worst because
she doesn’t like the wind
and the almost-winterness
and the musty smell of wool clothes
in cold rains and half-snow.
As for the other months,
she likes to say
that their smells depend
on the weather of the year,
and she leaves it at that.

Early in the morning,
when she goes to take a bath
in the bathroom we share,
she leaves her clothes lying
at the foot of our bed,
and sometimes, if I am awake,
and I know she isn’t looking,
I pick up her sweater
to smell the March in it.

Every year in March,
when I am not looking,
she creeps outside at dawn
to watch the crocuses grow
in the new sunlight.
I know this not because she tells me,
but because she leaves her muddy shoes
by the door after breakfast.
And I can only assume
that she collects the smell
of that month,
in her clothes and behind her ears.
She must.
Because this morning,
even when it is August
and the whole world smells like heat,
her sweater smells like
old snow and muddy grass
with crocus petals pushing past
the tired blades.


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