I used to sniff your scent, redolent
of work, play, earth, sawdust, sunshine.
I used to lick the spice of your sweat,
an animal desire to know you in every sense.
I used to bury my face against your chest,
inhaling the bouquet of pheromone-infused cotton.

You don’t smell like yourself anymore. My nose detected
the cancerous imbalance months before a diagnosis.
Then the metallic tang of chemotherapy emanating
from your pores. Now, with this new kind of chemo,
malignant cells not vanquished but held in check,
the battle leaves you reeking a different kind of strange.

I spent all these years circling you like a bitch in perpetual heat,
knowing you would turn to me. I’m not going to stop,
just because I lost your trail. But now you curl up like a tired
old hound, immune to my sniffing and prodding.
I pace outside the bedroom door, whining inside like every
dog does when there’s something wrong with their master.