Saturday, October 04, 2014


His opening gambit: a floral, or one that’s just cetalox. No, I said, I’d
prefer incense, resins, smoke; a touch on a test strip is still too light.
Delighted, smiling: “Ah!” he said, “You know your scents!” We tried
another two, then he leaned in. “What about oudh?” Yes, I’ll bite.

Three dark bottles. “Women, ah, women are their own perfumes.”
A mist, then a verse from Eugene Onegin shimmered and decayed.
“What about this one?” Wet ink on vellum, a lost ghazal exhumed;
the third a sonnet of benzoin, aloeswood, and labdanum. He repaid

my attention with a suggestion: a fourth fragrance, without aloes,
an off-center chypre. “There are dimensions to it I think you’ll like.”
No stories painted by scent in this; rather, I’m the story, hallowed
much the same way as a butterfly pinned to a thorn by a shrike.

It was sharply beautiful, that chypre, blending my sweat and skin
with oak moss and vetiver, leather, neroli: “I’ll take it.” Or I’m taken
by it, I thought, impaled on the word. “Tell me what you think in
a few days,” he murmured. “When you wear a scent, it awakens.”

1 comment:

Larry said...

I really liked this one -- reading it my mind sorted through remembered scents, trying to find analogs. You should distribute paper copies of the poem with a vial or two of scents as an olfactory enhancement!