The Long Deployment

Jehanne Dubrow

 
For weeks, I breathe his body in the sheet
and pillow. I lift a blanket to my face.
There’s bitter incense paired with something sweet,  
like sandalwood left sitting in the heat
or cardamom rubbed on a piece of lace.
For weeks, I breathe his body. In the sheet
I smell anise, the musk that we secrete
with longing, leather and moss. I find a trace  
of bitter incense paired with something sweet.   
Am I imagining the wet scent of peat
and cedar, oud, impossible to erase?
For weeks, I breathe his body in the sheet—
crushed pepper—although perhaps discreet,
difficult for someone else to place.
There’s bitter incense paired with something sweet.  
With each deployment I become an aesthete
of smoke and oak. Patchouli fills the space
for weeks. I breathe his body in the sheet
until he starts to fade, made incomplete,  
a bottle almost empty in its case.
There’s bitter incense paired with something sweet.  
And then he’s gone. Not even the conceit
of him remains, not the resinous base.
For weeks, I breathed his body in the sheet.
He was bitter incense paired with something sweet.       
 
Copyright © 2013 by Jehanne Dubrow. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on December 20, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Poems by This Author

Before the Deployment by Jehanne Dubrow
He kisses me before he goes. While I
Penelope Considers a New Do by Jehanne Dubrow
The magazines declare: Don't ever cut your hair just after breaking up
Stateside by Jehanne Dubrow
If there is such a thing as elasticity


Further Reading

Poems about Anonymity and Loneliness
"My True Love Hath My Heart and I Have His"
by Mary Elizabeth Coleridge
79
by Joachim du Bellay
Don't Let Me Be Lonely [There was a time]
by Claudia Rankine
Acts of Mind
by Catherine Barnett
Alone
by Maya Angelou
Alone for a Week
by Jane Kenyon
Angel of Duluth [excerpt]
by Madelon Sprengnether
At a Window
by Carl Sandburg
Beyond the Pane
by Greg Hewett
Boston
by Aaron Smith
Danse Russe
by William Carlos Williams
Dear Lonely Animal,
by Oni Buchanan
Demeter in Paris
by Meghan O'Rourke
Donal Óg
by Isabella Augusta, Lady Gregory
Drawing from Life
by Reginald Shepherd
Eating Alone
by Li-Young Lee
Found Poem
by Howard Nemerov
Gospel
by Philip Levine
How I Am
by Jason Shinder
How the mind works still to be sure
by Jennifer Denrow
How to See Deer
by Philip Booth
I Am Much Too Alone in This World, Yet Not Alone
by Rainer Maria Rilke
I Am!
by John Clare
I'm Nobody! Who are you? (260)
by Emily Dickinson
Isolation: To Marguerite
by Matthew Arnold
Loneliness
by Trumbull Stickney
Mnemosyne
by Trumbull Stickney
Montparnasse
by Ernest Hemingway
Mountain Pines
by Robinson Jeffers
Museum
by Glyn Maxwell
Ode to Solitude
by Alexander Pope
On the Terrace
by Landis Everson
R.I.P., My Love
by Tory Dent
Sex
by Michael Ryan
Skunk Hour
by Robert Lowell
Song of Myself
by John Canaday
Song of Quietness
by Robinson Jeffers
Sonnet V
by Mahmoud Darwish
Sympathy
by Edith Franklin Wyatt
The Creation
by James Weldon Johnson
The Daffodils
by William Wordsworth
The Hermit Goes Up Attic
by Maxine Kumin
The Living Beauty
by W. B. Yeats
The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock
by T. S. Eliot
The Sleepers
by Walt Whitman
The Suicide
by Edna St. Vincent Millay
the suicide kid
by Charles Bukowski
The Whole World Is Gone
by Jennifer Grotz
This Is a Photograph of Me
by Margaret Atwood
Those Winter Sundays
by Robert Hayden
Toro
by Sarah Gambito
WHERE?
by Kenneth Patchen
White Days
by Priscilla Becker
Whoever You Are Holding Me Now in Hand
by Walt Whitman
Why Is the Color of Snow?
by Brenda Shaughnessy
Your Catfish Friend
by Richard Brautigan
Contemporary Love Poems
A Tyrant Seeks Conclusion in the Known Self
by Emily Kendal Frey
corydon & alexis, redux
by D. A. Powell
Credo
by Matthew Rohrer
Epithalamium
by Matthew Rohrer
Fons
by Pura López-Colomé
Footprint on Your Heart
by Gary Lenhart
Happy first anniversary (in anticipation of your thirty ninth)
by Bob Hicok
Hey You
by Adrian Blevins
Holding Pattern
by Timothy Liu
Hotel Berlin
by Cynthia Cruz
I Want the Certainty of Love in Another Language
by Christie Ann Reynolds
If You Must Hide Yourself From Love
by Christopher Salerno
It Was Raining In Delft
by Peter Gizzi
Long Distance II
by Tony Harrison
Love Poem
by Graham Foust
Marriage: A Daybook
by Nicole Cooley
My Heart
by Kim Addonizio
Rime Riche
by Monica Ferrell
San Antonio
by Naomi Shihab Nye
syntax
by Maureen N. McLane
The Ear is an Organ Made for Love
by E. Ethelbert Miller
The Ecstasy
by Phillip Lopate
The Embrace
by Mark Doty
The Emperor
by Matthew Rohrer
The Kiss
by Stephen Dunn
The Love-Hat Relationship
by Aaron Belz
The Meaning of Zero: A Love Poem
by Amy Uyematsu
To Dorothy
by Marvin Bell
When a Woman Loves a Man
by David Lehman
When Someone Says I Love You the Whole
by Karyna McGlynn
Poems About War
Henry V, Act III, Scene I [One more unto the breach, dear friends]
by William Shakespeare
The Iliad, Book I, Lines 1-15
by Homer
War Music [Down on your knees, Achilles]
by Christopher Logue
A Wedding at Cana, Lebanon, 2007
by Tom Sleigh
April 27, 1937
by Timothy Steele
At Bay
by Carl Phillips
Bagram, Afghanistan, 2002
by Marvin Bell
Before the Deployment
by Jehanne Dubrow
Death Fugue
by Paul Celan
Dulce et Decorum Est
by Wilfred Owen
Eighth Air Force
by Randall Jarrell
For the Fallen
by Laurence Binyon
For the Union Dead
by Robert Lowell
Forms of Range and Loathing
by Ruth Ellen Kocher
Grass
by Carl Sandburg
I Have a Rendezvous with Death
by Alan Seeger
I Hear an Army
by James Joyce
i sing of Olaf glad and big
by E. E. Cummings
Memorial Day for the War Dead
by Yehuda Amichai
Mosul
by David Hernandez
My Father on His Shield
by Walt McDonald
Peace
by Henry Vaughan
Peace
by Gerard Manley Hopkins
Phantom Noise
by Brian Turner
Poems about War
Romance
by Charles Reznikoff
Ships That Pass in the Night
by Paul Laurence Dunbar
Spoken From the Hedgerows
by Jorie Graham
The Battle Hymn of the Republic
by Julia Ward Howe
The Coming of War: Actæon
by Ezra Pound
The Czar's Last Christmas Letter: A Barn in the Urals
by Norman Dubie
The Fall of Rome
by W. H. Auden
The Mask of Anarchy [Excerpt]
by Percy Bysshe Shelley
The War After the War
by Debora Greger
The War Works Hard
by Dunya Mikhail
The Wound-Dresser
by Walt Whitman
Untitled [1950 June 27]
by Don Mee Choi
Veterans of Foreign Wars
by Edward Hirsch
War and Hell, XVI [I am a great inventor]
by Ernest Crosby
War Is Kind [excerpt]
by Stephen Crane
War Rug
by Henri Cole
Web Prayer for Milosz
by David Wojahn