Olfactory Memory Has a Minimum 13-Year Shelf Life

by Ben Guenther

The smell of my 16th year lingers in the downtown café
after a young vixen blows in with the new
cool that replaces the cool of all that was

once cool and you tried so hard to be. Suddenly
you are earth tones and flannel and Bush CDs
and Saturday night drives whooshing home angry

from your girlfriend’s house ’cause you’re not getting laid
or loved and you’re weary from hearing about last summer
in Germany and the guy who nabbed her

virginity, knowing you blew it with the pure girl
you dumped to be with this fresh, exciting, 18, sexy
mess of perfume who leaves clothes in your room

for your mother to discover and worry over
and hate you for not staying with the girl
she liked so much better, even though

you’re only 16 and it will certainly end
anyway when she goes off to college
and studies how to exploit your insecurities

with everything that’s new and not you
and you are left behind to act cool
in coffee shops, pretending people outgrow

all that’s planted in their mental window boxes,
the façade holding for years until you smell
another flower wearing her scent.


Author Bio
Ben Guenther is an MFA student in the School of Film at Ohio University. More >

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