Poem: Smell

Will you grab me by the throat
And try erasing a passionate mistake you once made Or ask
me if I’m doing fine And I’d say, how could I?
When I’m deprived of the presence that once gave me life.

Artwork by Aditi Monde

“The expression of a well made man appears not only in his face It is in his limbs and joints also
It is curiously in the joints of his hips and wrists
It is in his walk, the carriage of his neck the flex of his waist And knees, dress does not hide him
The strong sweet quality he has strikes through the cotton and broadcloth To see him pass conveys as much as the best poem perhaps more
You linger to see his back, and the back of his neck and shoulder side.”
– Walt Whitman.

……..
Smell is a poem about love, lust and separation.
About the city, the sea and desperation.
But who wouldn’t lust after this deity’s physique or his smell, which would linger long after he leaves.

“Smell” is about a man’s undying love for another.

……
When my nostrils register the faint sweetness
Of sweat, musk and perfume
My heart hurts with familiarity
And the smell of perfume, takes me elsewhere

Reminiscence of a place- distant in my memory
A sea shore and a cobbled track
A stony bench on which we sat
I thanked the winter sun
For the heat made him sweat
And I sat next to him
Inhaling the perfection of the moment
Flirtatious eyes turning toward him

A boy- perfect in every way.
And I tried shielding my gaze
But how could I?
When he spoke
I was only half listening
And half studying his face

He spoke of passions that vexed him
Of his mother, he loved with all his heart
Of philosophies his 19 year old heart could seldom fathomed Of beaches, fish tacos and sand.
Of his sister, his brothers and his father
Of a girl I didn’t want to hear about
So I lifted my gaze and looked away
Envy- now observable in mine.

But each detail of his face-memorized
Each smell, like a fragrance-compartmentalized
More perfume at an instance
Sweat and soap at another
Sweat and fresh when he played soccer
Of the sea, salty and tempestuous
When he swam in the ocean

His skin, smooth, untanned and untouched
His mere presence fuelled dreams of intense pleasure
And my submission- to this deity-
I had already yielded
As I whispered to him
“Take me and do to me as you please-“
“Hurt me and bruise my skin
But please, don’t leave”
For I’m every bit less a human

Incomplete without you
Your body and your perfume.

But if your love is too much to ask
Stay with me, a little longer
& Tell me about your dreams
But don’t ask me about mine
For they’re all consumed by you, your naked body and your perfume.

Preserved are our evenings of playfulness
in a hologram
Detached from the grasp of reality; Memories Of his black T-shirt coming off In his silver car
Parked by the beach
Of uninterrupted touching and love making Of his bare body pressing against mine
Of his erection pumping to the rhythm of the sea Of moans, laughs and love professed Of regret, the day after
Of him and I uniting
One, our spirit and body
Our Arcadia on Earth in that silver sedan.

But Oh! The misfortune of such love
When one knows the other to be his twin, in body and soul The other, unaware
A disposition of indifference
Left alone to shed tears of yearning and separation.

Did she know the intricacies of his body?
His torso and the veins on his neck
Or his mind, a child-like temperament

Or his soul, a part of me
He so willing let her steal
And by doing so, crushing me.
My Arcadia came crashing to this plane of diabolic reality

Done away with an ecstatic dream like state
Under a then perennial winter sun
Given way to a catatonic sleepless one
Where even in my dreams
Your presence is lacking.

And washed up on stony shores
Like the foam of the wave that broke on this
Is the Eden you so readily showed
And snatched away from me
An eternity worth of pleasure
When you-
Unmade my chastity

And when you slept that night
Warm, by the campfire
The cold stung me deep within
Your body lay enveloped
In the gentle embrace of the rays
Bouncing off the burning embers
Your complexion, fiery like the flame
My sorrow, like stars in the smooth shimmering sea A distorted reflection of burning hot passion
Floating amass , so near yet so far away from the object of it’s desire
What had once burned stronger than the flame
Now cold, because of the distance
From the element that fed it with the energy Much like my soul

Subjected to this cruel depravity.

And years from now
If you see me on the street
Of a city different from this
Will you look me in the eyes
And yet see through me
Refuse to acknowledge my existence
Or will you ask me how I have been
And have the nonchalance rip my heart in pieces

Will you grab me by the throat
And try erasing a passionate mistake you once made Or ask
me if I’m doing fine And I’d say, how could I?
When I’m deprived of the presence that once gave me life.

Would my standoffish eyebrow raise
Give away my distaste
For the woman your eyes so lovingly behold
And for me has that censure
A feigned hatred
That boiled after that evening
When two young souls did things
Guided by unadulterated lust and liveliness

But before you part this time
When she has her face turned elsewhere
Pray, will you steal me one last glance
One last gaze
One last smile, for old times sake
And see the wary, disarming tear trickle down my face To which you would half heave and half sigh

Two men, having accepted their fate.

And I would foolishly pray
To be the only reason
For your footsteps to retreat
Back to where I stood
To kiss my lips and touch my face
Or to push me away-
Shove me against an incoming wave
Lost to oblivion
Lost in the sea of strangers- living without a face In a city- living without a name.

About the author

Dhruv

Dhruv is a 22 year old poet. Pursuing a masters in Society and Culture Studying geopolitics and comparative literature are his particular interests. You can find him hunting for inspiration in literature/film festivals or in obscure archaic bookstores, or just casually strolling on busy streets.
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