Smell Dating

by Victoria Kennefick

They came in ten tiny transparent plastic bags,
the torn armpits of strangers’ t-shirts still humming
with their owners’ un-deodorised sweat. Trust

yourself, the website said, your nose knows.
In the kitchen I take each sample out,  
unfurl it like a cloth napkin at a fancy restaurant,

hold each swatch to my nose, huff deeply.
This one smells of bubble gum, another of the sea,
still another of rotting flesh. The white t-shirt they sent

me hung by my body for three days, grew slack like old
skin. I tried to embrace my natural scent but was careful
where I went, didn’t exercise. Leaving the samples

to pine on the table, I go to the bedroom. Sniffing
the pillow after you’d left, I remember a stray eyelash
smiled on cotton. I cannot describe your smell in words.

I pull back the covers, press the pillow to my face. Surrender
yourself to the poignant experience of body odour,
the website said. It smells like me.