Taste, Smell

Anosmia, Hyposmia—lately, I learned  
these are the loss of smell and taste,  

respectively: not the names of minor 
goddesses in ancient mythology, nor

of their attendants in waiting. How sad
to wake in one's bed unable to detect 

that someone is in the kitchen making  
toast, eggs and bacon, or greasy sausages. 

Sadder still, to sit at the table 
only to find a formerly luxurious pat

of butter as well as a caramelly cup
of your favorite coffee are in-

distinguishable from mouthfuls 
of wet cardboard. But even these 

are bearable in contrast to rapid
decline and death. In the Exodus

story, the people fled Egypt and the ten 
plagues, which scholars have theorized

could have included airborne bacteria
and disease— even some early form 

of climate change which poisoned 
the rivers and killed all the fish

and frogs. And yet, crossing the barren
desert, they had quail and manna, which

they likened to coriander seed or honey. 
Then and thereafter, heroic crossings 

are marked with strife and deprivation.
On the long ocean voyage they took

to get to another version of a promised
land, Bulosan wrote of how some of his 

cohort of pensionados and migrant workers 
resorted to softening torn newspaper

pages in water, which they chewed slowly
if only to trick their hunger. It might 

be said that toward the end of their journey, 
language was their only sustenance. The fields

waited, and hard labor in the soil. Among them, 
some were chroniclers of all they saw and tasted.



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