‘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.


Sarah Doyle

About Sarah Doyle

Sarah Doyle is the Pre-Raphaelite Society’s Poet-in-Residence, and co-author of ‘Dreaming Spheres: Poems of the Solar System’ (PS Publishing, 2014). She is widely placed and published, being a runner-up in the Keats-Shelley Essay Prize 2020, winning the Wolverhampton Literature Festival (WoLF) poetry competition and Holland Park Press’s Brexit in Poetry 2019, and being runner-up in the Keats-Shelley Poetry Prize 2019. She was highly commended in the Ginkgo Prize for Ecopoetry and in the Forward Prizes 2018. Sarah is co-editor of ‘Humanagerie’, an anthology from Eibonvale Press, shortlisted for a British Fantasy Award in 2019. Her poetry has been published recently in ‘Ink, Sweat and Tears’, ‘Poetry Birmingham Literary Journal’, ‘Finished Creatures’, ‘Anthropocene Poetry’, ‘Dust Poetry’, ‘Irisi’, etc. She holds an MA in Creative Writing from Royal Holloway College, University of London, and is currently researching a PhD in the poetics of meteorology at Birmingham City University. A pamphlet of collage poems inspired by Dorothy Wordsworth’s journals is forthcoming from V. Press in spring 2021. More at sarahdoyle.co.uk or Twitter: @PoetSarahDoyle