an old stain deeply set

December 17, 2013 § Leave a comment

the church had the stink of an old stain deeply set
a stationary sweat wetting the cracks
of our mostly immobile body shifting imperceptibly

Southern smells move slowly
and rarely arrive without guests
a nice name for strangers
during the sermon children scoured

the floor for hidden licorice
to taste what their noses said was there
their mothers whiffed the wooden walls
fathers scanned the trees

none knew if one was the cause of the other
if the sweat smelled sweet or the sweet dripped of sweat
the only ones who tried were the visitors
stray in-laws and feral Unitarians

we treated the smell as something refusing explanation
preferring a certain muted commiseration
we discussed it as seldom as possible
its reality set at a remove from its truth

for us the smell was the perfume
of a quiet sociability
more reliable than God
more intimate than prayer

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