–late spring pandemic advertising from deodorant company
I, too, am excited at the thought my armpits
could go places. I don’t know where jasmine
grows but I want my armpits there, rolling around
in weedy ditches that are not my ditches.
The armpit wants what the armpit wants
and these armpits would like to re-integrate
into society smelling of peaches.
How much do I remember of the scent
of close people, their cotton and wool,
the damask with an undercurtain of musk,
which I’d always thought was an animal
with gold-tipped horns?
I’m readying for the cedared scent of crowds.
I’ll bathe in sea breeze from a plastic tube,
douse myself in bergamot and basil,
orbit strangers smelling of plum blossoms,
or coconut, small fruits from sunshine states.
Our bodies, largely neglected,
rubbed with rose petals.
We’ll squabble with families over
double-booked hotel rooms. We’ll sleep
in the car, full bladders so we wake before dawn,
move on to other growing zones where
Floridian birds call: key lime, key lime.
Karen Skolfield’s book Battle Dress (W. W. Norton) won the Barnard Women Poets Prize and the 2020 Massachusetts Book Award in poetry. Her book Frost in the Low Areas (Zone 3 Press) won the 2014 PEN New England Award in poetry, and she is the winner of the 2016 Jeffrey E. Smith Editors’ Prize in poetry from The Missouri Review. Skolfield is a U.S. Army veteran and teaches writing to engineers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. www.karenskolfield.com