Freelance writer and Latvian-English literary translator

Smells Like Tarmac, Smells Like Home


Two months in

that’s when
your smell changed

You stayed over at mine
that night
after another shift
at the shit restaurant
where you had to work
until you figured things out

It had been
an unremarkable day
and you complained
of your customers
and managers
who never seemed to understand
then hugged me in
your arms wrapped tight around my legs
you fell asleep
as though I were your shelter

That’s when it happened
your smell changed

as you tossed and turned
in my bed
suffering the heat wave
I heard the noises
of trolleybusses
saw the lights
from the street lamps
that crept through
that window
on the ground floor
I used to stare out of

I thought how strange
it was
to find a home
in a stranger
from another part of the world

to smell the tarmac of my childhood home
on your skin
feel the car and petrol fumes
in your breath

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