by Josh Olsen
I turned away from mom’s breath
when she whispered into my ear.
Hints of vomit escaped her thick veil of perfume.
For years, she “improved” herself
sticking pens down her throat.
To keep myself from crying,
I made cruel jokes.
As the purging became more frequent
so did her perfuming –
her favorite, a heady opium oil,
a birthday present from an ex-boyfriend.
The scent penetrated everything.
Her letters funked up the mailbox.
My children needed sponge baths
after she babysat.
She used to smell cold,
like snow or cucumbers.