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the smell

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ke pwoahn Pohnpei
I told him as we kissed
is that a good thing?
he asked
hell yea
I wanted to say
replaced it with another kiss
inhaling the mix of last night’s sakau en Pohnpei 
seir en wai, sweat
rain
intoxicating
taking me home

he left that smell behind
it would barely linger by the time
he reached his destination
I was headed for it
so the smell stayed
bittersweet and blue
on my skin, in my hair
I carried it with me there
where it grew
mixed with mangoes,
coughs, handshakes, pigs,
babies, and old people

I’m back
it now reeks
won’t wash away
with the other smells
get in my car
it hits me
pungent remnants of the mwaramwar
he left behind.
Source: Poetry (July/August 2016)

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This poem originally appeared in the July/August 2016 issue of Poetry magazine

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the smell

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