Patricia Lockwood

The Perfumer’s Nose in Profile

     Smells outline and never
the object, shines like a silver prosthetic, extends his life
three seconds at least and lets his thoughts trail off, cries

what is a sense of sm…? The engines of seagulls will suck
in seagulls, returns the unanswerable air, as the perfumer
inhales and declares: This is a thoughtful one; do I detect,

silhouetted against an amber sky, the heavy brow ridge
of a resin? Or: I am of two minds—I have the nostril’s gift
of existing on both sides of the window at once—while

the liquid is translucent as a wart held up to light,
the fragrance itself is a failure, three circles and never
 a Venn. Meanwhile the nose revels in its point,

 and wonders when will I go dull, and smell
trumpet mutes in morning glories? When will I turn
full face, and turn to the cruciform faith, and say

all flowers are him-in-the-pulpit? Not now,
and the perfumer’s nose in profile swears
there are no living things, even as the perfumer

bends to breathe them, thrills at his core like
an anteater, says there is a nerve-rich smell
on the breeze tonight,
     does an American orbit the earth?

Patricia Lockwood’s poems have appeared recently in Poetry, AGNI, Denver Quarterly, Gulf Coast, and Hayden’s Ferry Review. She lives in Florida.