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I learned a new language today,
       one comprised
             of fragrances:

       each word a combination of
morphemes of scent,

the head note, mid note, and heart note
       forming footholds of syntax.

I tried to recreate you in this language.

I distilled your smile into
       the sweetness of lychee, placed it
       in the head note: always the first part of you
that I notice.

In the mid note I placed
       lemongrass and tobacco,
             warm and spiced, resonant in the air,
       a scent that embraces me, clings to my red dress,
             says in your golden tones:
       I’m here for you.

And into the heart I breathed
those heavier notes:
       the gunsmoke that chases ever after you,
             the silver that burns against your skin,
                   the musk of something wild, untamed.

It’s you, almost—then I realize
       what’s missing:

the word we share
       that fills my lungs,
lingers sweet on my tongue,

       too large
for only one sense.



S. Qiouyi Lu writes, translates, and edits between two coasts of the Pacific. Their fiction and poetry has appeared in Asimov’s, F&SF, and Strange Horizons, and their translations have appeared in Clarkesworld. They edit the flash fiction and poetry magazine Arsenika. You can find out more about S. at their website, s.qiouyi.lu.
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15 Jul 2024

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