My husband's acute sense of smell
detects it first, a waft of putrefaction
every time the heater blows warm.
How does he know? I ask. He says
he's acquainted with the smell of dead
mouse, and leaves it at that.
So we cycle options through the air
like the circling reek, each choice falling
on our least favorite
spectrum between expensive
and vomitous. Late March, not yet warm
enough to ignore, to leave the heater
indefinitely off and trust the tiny corpse
to decompose before winter, leaving nothing
but a rind of fur and truss of toothpick bones.
Nevertheless, we bundle in sweaters
and hoodies, watch the tight white buds
about to popcorn on the stonefruit
tree out back, the smallest amount of regret
flowering somewhere soft and dark
for the bit of brown life that nosed
close to the warmth of vents
and cotton candy layers of insulation
and expired in its hibernacle
at the lip, the moist mouth of April.
Dayna Patterson is a former Managing Editor of Bellingham Review. She is also Poetry Editor for Exponent II Magazine and Founding Editor-in-Chief of Psaltery & Lyre. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in The Fourth River, Hotel Amerika, The Journal of American Poetry, Literary Mama, North American Review, Sugar House Review, Weave, and others.