Juniper Sling

I look in the mirror and smile

I like the way I smell

I will ask you:

Would you like to smell me?

Isn’t there a better word than smell?

I am wracking my brain.


I forgot to use perfume

for a year.

We were all wearing masks.

But I finally remembered,

I ran back at the last minute

as we were about to leave the house

to take the bus across town

to go visit my mother

and her friend for a drink, or two

because we’ve all made it

so far.

We’re still in Madrid




The Universe.

Remember those silly addresses

we wrote on postcards

when we were little? What came after the universe?


You gave me the bottle for Christmas.

I still keep it in

its beautiful light teal green

and silver box from London.

Everything seems distant and exotic now

and I love its name.

Last night

the perfume was an afterthought

a sudden last-minute priority

like making sure you turned the stove off.

I asked you to wait in the hallway

while I went back

in the dark to quickly find it, open the box, take off the glass top, and spray.

The first spritz went right into my eye;

 it stung, but it was worth it.

The rest, in my scarf, hair, and behind my ears.


The 20 bus was calm.

We’re not supposed to talk anymore

on public transport.

Talking spreads germs

despite the masks, or something like that.

But we never talk much in public anyway.


Outside my mother’s building there were lights flashing,

firetrucks and police cars.

Another emergency?

I checked my phone as we got off the bus.


No answers.


The night before I dreamt I had a missed call from my mother

a llamada perdida - lost call - we say in Spanish.

In the dream, I had a phone and several remote controls.

My hands fumbled with all the devices

all the buttons

trying to find the call

to remember the password,

the pin code.

I knew the remote controls weren’t phones

but I kept coming back to them.


I think about writing a poem using

a thesaurus,

but I resist because I love the words I know:

familiar language.


Turns out

the firemen were cutting down trees

damaged by the snowstorm 

the latest surprise disaster

a giant fallen loquat and a Mediterranean pine.


Soledad Fox Maura is a Professor at Williams College (USA). She is a biographer, editor and novelist.