346: The Long Deployment

346: The Long Deployment

346: The Long Deployment

The Long Deployment
by Jehanne Dubrow

For weeks, I breathe his body in the sheet
        and pillow. I lift a blanket to my face.
There’s bitter incense paired with something sweet,
        like sandalwood left sitting in the heat
or cardamom rubbed on a piece of lace.
        For weeks, I breathe his body. In the sheet
I smell anise, the musk that we secrete
        with longing, leather and moss. I find a trace
of bitter incense paired with something sweet.
        Am I imagining the wet scent of peat
and cedar, oud, impossible to erase?
        For weeks, I breathe his body in the sheet—
crushed pepper—although perhaps discreet,
        difficult for someone else to place.
There’s bitter incense paired with something sweet.
        With each deployment I come become an aesthete
of smoke and oak. Patchouli fills the space
        for weeks. I breathe his body in the sheet
until he starts to fade, made incomplete,
        a bottle almost empty in its case.
There’s bitter incense paired with something sweet.
        And then he’s gone. Not even the conceit
of him remains, not the resinous base.
        For weeks, I breathed his body in the sheet.
He was bitter incense paired with something sweet.

"The Long Deployment," by Jehanne Dubrow, from DOTS & DASHES by Jehanne Dubrow, copyright © 2017 Southern Illinois University Press. Used by permission of the poet.