Zachariah Wells

Skunk

The dim stink of skunk carried in
From the woods isn’t unpleasant—
Distance and diffusion
Make it more perfume than weapon

And it mingles in the brainpan
With a memory you can’t put a finger on
But linger over anyway—a vaccine
Couldn’t be, without a speck of infection;

Anti-venom is drawn from pure poison;
And the life you lead on this land
Was allowed by the death of your parents.
It hurt, but diffusion and distance

Make it bearable. When you live with a constant
Scent in your nostrils, you can’t
Stand it at first, then come to love it, then
It grows so faint you forget its existence.

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