Wild Court

An international poetry journal based in the English Department of King’s College London

‘Mephitine’: a poem by Sarah Doyle




You will know me before you see me,
will sense me from twenty paces. I am
all sour milk top-notes, that pissy catch
in the back of your throat while you try,
politely, not to gag. The never-fresh,
wearing a coat ripe with my own history,
I assail your nose with a putrid cumulus.
You’ll identify days-old cabbage, sweetly
rotten, insinuating itself with unspeakable
rudeness on your appalled tongue; a bitter
shit-fug of old heat, ground deeply into
skin. This is how ugly smells. I cannot
help but disgrace myself, it’s in my nature,
an involuntary eggy spritz that lines the
lungs and burns the eyes. I stay with you
long after I am gone, scent-marking your
skin, clothes, hair – a shaming signature
left behind me, invisible in the ruined air.