09/20/2021

Mercury-Marvin Sunderland ~ Perfume

my mom gave me
perfume
for my birth­day this year.

it came in late
and inside a bottle
five times smaller
than what we expected.

it didn’t even have
a spray nozzle.

sim­ply
one small stick of plastic
attached to the cap
so i would drop it on myself instead.

and my mom laughed
and i laughed
because it wasn’t really
what we had in mind

it was
a smidgen
com­pared to
the hand­some bottles
lin­ing my mother’s dresser.

1.

the only other
per­fume that i own

is in a small container
too.

it was gift­ed to me
in a big tie-dye bag
of lush products
alongside
a big bag of jel­ly bellies
in the col­ors of the trans flag

and it wasn’t even my birthday

because my friend fin
was just that generous.

2.

i told my mom
that one of our cats
often smells like perfume.

it’s because she likes to sit on mom’s dresser
and paw at the mirror.

yulia sees
a cat in her reflection.
and every day she attempts to res­cue her.

when she walks all over the dresser
all the fra­grant smells
cling to her fur.

3.

i have not worn perfume
in one (1) year.

i didn’t ask for the perfume
specif­i­cal­ly to be worn.

i asked for perfume
because i knew the strong scents
would help me stay grounded
instead of disassociate.

4.

the first time i was giv­en perfume
it was a love­ly spring day.

i told fin they were so generous
and in a big group of friends

we joked
we drew
we told stories
we ate junk
we drank junk
we laughed

it was such
a won­der­ful day.

5.

one (1) morning
one (1) year ago
i applied fin’s perfume
their lush lotions, too.

this was the third time
in a two-year span
when i’ve had
to attend a friend’s funeral.

6.

my mom gave me
perfume
for my birth­day this year.

it came in late
and inside a bottle
five times smaller
than what we expected.

it didn’t even have
a spray nozzle.

sim­ply
one small stick of plastic
attached to the cap
so i would drop it on myself instead.

and my mom laughed
and i laughed
because it wasn’t really
what we had in mind

it was
a smidgen
com­pared to
the hand­some bottles
lin­ing my mother’s dresser.

~

Mercury-Marvin Sunderland (he/him) is a trans­gen­der autis­tic gay man from Seattle with Borderline Personality Disorder. He cur­rent­ly attends the Evergreen State College and works for Headline Poetry & Press. He’s been pub­lished by UC Riverside’s Santa Ana River Review, UC Santa Barbara’s Spectrum Literary Journal, and The New School’s The Inquisitive Eater. He’s @Romangodmercury on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.