POEM IV: “The Scent Test”

My sister and I
used to play a game
where we would blindfold each other
and then go through the spice cabinet
unscrewing each jar and holding it far away from the other’s nose
then moving it closer
and closer
until finally the scent could be named.

Being able to identify, say, bay leaf at twenty inches
was impressive–too impressive, and meant the blindfold needed tightening.
Cinnamon at two inches was no accomplishment,
and garlic salt was easy no matter how far away the container was held,
but we pretended that it wasn’t,
because if you really couldn’t guess,
you got a taste,
and we were both fiends for sodium.

To this day,
I sometimes go through the spice jar,
unscrewing the lids one by one,
and reminding myself:
mace, anise,


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