Pandemic Poems for Us All #2: Proximity

As promised, another poem-thing. That’s what poet William Stafford called his drafts. Again–not deeply revised, no great intent, but springing from the moment. I have the hope, perhaps false, that these poems will all have a short life, that we’ll get past this threat, so not need them, and therefore they should not rest long–as I prefer for poems. So here, a whiner about how I miss my friends.


I miss the smell of friends, miss

the way they each offer up a scent,

as I must to them. I try to conjure

them from memory, the sweet aroma

of a man who showers every day

and shaves, and uses that cologne

with musk.  And the one who farms,

who always smells like soil in spring,

the one who farts in his car, magnificently,

the one who smokes on the porch—

that tobacco and stale wood scent,

and it’s not just the men,

but all of them, even friends I’ve never met,

the one with a soapy air, Irish Spring

or some such thing, and the one

who doesn’t use deodorant at all,

and the one who always smells

like bacon and kitchen spice,

the one who smells of yeast

and breast milk mixed, the one

who smells of the garden and

I swear, daffodils, even in snow.

And as I make this mental list, I know

it’s not just scent, but being close

enough to snuggle in a neck,

to sniff, their arms surrounding me

so that the odors wafting up

fill embrace like a seed-filled pod,

the yin/yang of bodies close enough

to lean on.

But now I am bereft of it,

all those pheromones of proximity

that mean you are near

to me and I am near to you—

I’m starving for the fragrances,

the least thing of our crumpled hugs,

not to mention all the other stuff.