Scent of a Woman

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Scent of a Woman

For days I touched you,
your moist feverish skin,
rubbed your swollen saffron
limbs with almond-scented oil.
I breathed prayers rhythmically
to the hypnotic sound
of the machines tethering you
to my world.
Family members whispered—
making plans
at the foot of your bed
while “What a Wonderful World” played
faintly in the background.
As you calmly gave up
your last breath
I cried silently
and took my leave from your side.
Selfish as I am
I took that bottle of almond-scented oil.
And sometimes I slowly remove
the stopper
and breathe in
what is left of you.

 

—Jeni Booker Senter

Jeni Booker Senter is a poet, essayist, and journalist devoted to the advancement of women. She is a member of NOW and AAUW. Her writing has earned awards in the Duque Wilson Essay Contest and the LaRoche Memorial Poetry Contest, and she is a contributor to NW Florida Business Climate, Blackwater Review Literary Journal, Journal of South Texas Studies, Socialist Women Magazine: International Women’s Day Edition, A&U, and Troubadour. In addition, she recently presented a paper at the third Annual High School Articulation Conference. Jeni has a cousin who is HIV-positive, and this has a major impact on her writing.