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Incense by Stuti Pachisia

Photo by Josh Ellwood

I remember that even three days after you left me I could smell you in the indents of my finger tips I tried rubbing cumin to let you off, But each time the pungent salt at the back of my tongue hit me You filled me up like an aftertaste My skin was several thousand oysters Waiting to be beaten open with rocks Until their shells split open to reveal beads of your Incense. When Mum and I were discussing What colour I wanted my room I told her I didn't need to see my room to know I offered to sit surrounded by pails Of fresh paint and dip my fingers thickly Into blood and lavender and mint and feel them and see them And smell that they smell all the same I told her I needed to smell to know So I asked her if my new room could be a rainbow. I sometimes think of oysters being sold in markets and how They carry their sea-smell with them Laden inside the fish-smell, the blood-smell, the smell of rust and sun and salt and iron as Sediments in fate lines. I am that oyster and every time I am offered for barter I smell you and remember where I was most at home. Smell is the strongest sense. I could smell thunder before I could see it or hear it. I remember smelling the heat come off of the barks of trees And flooding away, blackening the water The steam came off the rocky roads And I shut the windows and opened my cupboard I found a vial of perfume, unnamed and purpled with Its own incense I broke it out on my wrist and felt it slip into me like My skin was bottling it up in tiny vials And my wrists had learnt how to breathe I called the vestiges of your number I still remember and told the lady who insisted you did not exist, 'I have found the sea.'


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