It saturates my bed sheets
and my pillows. It seeps from the fridge.
It coats the leather seats in my car, and wafts
with the breezes outside.
It flavors my Thai dinner
three hours from home.
It is on my clothes when the wind shifts,
my fingertips when I bite my nails.
Suspicious, I look over my shoulder
in public, sniff my sleeves deeply and often.
I wear too much cologne.
The smell is rancid fruits and raw meat.
It is warm and sweet. Acidic. It has overwhelmed
the scent of my skin. I shower several times.
I become obsessive, scrubbing furiously
until lather clouds every centimeter
of flesh. My rinse water scalds.
My red-raw skin steams as I towel it,
the smell isn’t gone.
Sweeter, warmer, more acidic –
and not gone.
I open windows.
I do laundry,
I scratch the oil off my arms and face.
The girl was loud. She howled and groaned
and bumped the wall ‘til I woke. I perked up
and listened in the dark to her
gurgles and whimpers. I feared briefly
for her wellbeing, but I was petrified
by the inhumanness of her noise.
I remained in bed, still,
and listened until she had quieted.
The stink of her wretch came quick
under my door. Poisoned, it seems. By some toxic
amalgamation of Sex on the Beach
and too-strong margaritas. Tropical,
I imagined her on all fours
outside my room in a grass skirt
and a coconut bra, pineapple
bile splattering up on her lei.
I find myself washing my hands
before I go to the bathroom – afraid of the smell
as though it were physical, infectious.
I find strong chemicals
and draw their fumes deeply in,
to cleanse, to eradicate.