Photo by Victoria D’Alvia

Today the CDC confirms that loss of smell is an early sign of infection by the novel coronavirus. A European study reports that “anosmia was found in between 85.6 and 88 percent” of patients. The Latin name, anosmia, the precise numbers, the confident words, fail to reassure. I lift my coffee mug and the darktoast/sweetcream/richbitter scent tastes like comfort.

Outside, the April cherry trees explode in grassdew/pinkwine/springblossom perfumes. Our dog sniffs the base of each trunk, the signpost at the corner, the rock by which we always pause. I wonder what her sensitive nose detects. Can she smell anxiety, sickness, grief?

Sanitizer squeezes chemical/clean/juniper/gin onto my hands - our new ritual ointment of homecoming and protection. Safe again to touch, I lift up my son and bury my face in his hair. The hotiron/honeygold/silkthread smell says health it says life it says love. I stand, eyes closed, breathing it in.