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.

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Aria Dominguez (she/they) is a writer whose poetry and creative nonfiction navigate the terrain between beauty and pain. Her work has been published in anthologies and she was the winner of the 2021 Porch Prize in Creative Nonfiction, finalist for the 2021 Lighthouse Writers Workshop Emerging Writers Fellowship in Nonfiction, semifinalist for the National League for American Pen Women's Grant for Mature Women, and winner of a Fall 2021 Brooklyn Poets Fellowship. She works with a nonprofit focused on food justice and lives in Minneapolis with her son.
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