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Follow Your Nose

Twenty months ago when earlier that day I had just tested positive for Covid 19, I sat down to eat a pizza for tea and I had a glass of blackcurrant squash. It was the last time I fully experienced the full taste and smell of not only food, but every other flavour, fragrance, odour, aroma, balm, bouquet, emanation and breath possible. For nine of those months I woke up feeling hung over everyday. The oils recommended for smell training only prolonged the to quote Withnail & I 'bastard behind the eyes' headache.

Unlike many, I wasn't hospitalised - although it was touch and go at one point. I didn't lose anyone close and it gave it me an opportunity to start a new way of living far removed from the pre pandemic normal we all used to know. This is how I would keep myself going on really bad days, days when I would perhaps be out for dinner and couldn't enjoy the experience fully. I stopped cooking as I couldn't enjoy the satisfaction of bringing ingredients together and relishing the anticipation of sitting down to eat. Walks in the woods near my home, whilst rejuvenating, lack the wafts on pine. And during the eight weeks of constantly smelling burning onions and excruciating nasal pain.

It still wasn't enough to overcome the despair that comes with being reminded endlessly of what I could no longer experience. Exacerbated by the fleeting moments when I actually do get a whiff of my love's hair after she's washed it or walk past a rose bush; taste ice cream or a burger. Not only did the virus destroy my olfactory membrane it destroyed my hope of it ever returning.

Hence why I am writing this piece. Outside of those close to me I haven't really talked about how it feels to be nose and tongue blind. Talking about and saying out loud is helping me to reach greater acceptance and focus on finding ways to feel connected to the outer world again. Also, now that I am speaking up about my experience it's as if my creative antennae are constantly sparking.

Here is a poem about it all and for anyone who is feeling it too.

Yersinia Pestis

You turned up in twenty twenty,

Third of November, I recall it, exactly.

Since that day you've never left me.

Most mornings I still spit blood.

You appear everywhere there's food.

You followed me into the woods

once; it seemed I'd lost you,

only to hear gibbering through

the hollow of a Sycamore.

Prattling about the benefits;

how your actions tipped

greater things into my grasp.

You reminded me how

my even being alive right now,

meant that Hugo

Farrer must have survived

your greatest and most creative

endeavour, circa thirteen

forty eight: he got to craft

metal for more. Graft

which helped wipe the shit

from existence for even

the shortest time. Even

until that wanker in

Windsor dreamt up the Ordinance

of Labourers...

There's always a chance

that things will swing

round, unfurl their wings,

make all your senses tingle

exultant once more…

Your most in depth lecture.

'And for what it's worth'

you whispered as you brushed

me aside,

'You are no longer a serf'.

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