my occasional musings on life, love, art, perfume ... what else is there?


Old Roses

When my father met my mother
at a dinner party in a garden of very old roses
on Beacon Hill one hot evening
in early June, he said to his friend, F. Morton
Smith, that night, "Morton, I have met
the girl I'm going to marry!"
(We have Uncle Morton's
testimony for that, the certified word
of a Boston lawyer.)

My mother
said my father had looked handsome, yes,
and talked delightfully, but what she remembered
were the mosquitoes. "If you stopped slapping at them,
even for a second, you were eaten up

My father courted her
for the next ten years, whenever they found themselves
in the same place. It was the twenties then,
heyday of ocean liners, and she might be
in Paris, or maybe off getting
run away with by a hairy, two-humped camel
in the Gobi Desert, while he was crossing
the Pyrenees on foot;

but, at last, on another
steamy hot day in Massachusetts, as she,
still wet from the bath, lay naked upstairs
on her sister's bed, she heard the wedding march
start up on the grand piano
directly below her. She sprang to her feet,
threw on her cream-colored dress with a dipping hemline,
and flung herself down the narrow old staircase
straight into the arms of matrimony – which were wearing
an English jacket of dark blue wool for the occasion,splendid, but unendurable.

Would anyone say the marriage was a happy one? I don't think
I know. Sometimes. Perhaps. I can't imagine
either of them with anyone else.

Years later, I,
a greedy child, crouched in the dark cabinet
under the attic stairs, and wolfed down
the last slice of their wedding cake, dried out fruitcake
in a little box covered with silver paper
and lined with paper lace, a keepsake
for wedding guests to slip under their pillows
that night so that they, too, would dream the bright moon
rolling her way through silver light, singing stars
clustering under the clouds.

Those crumbs
became the bones in my seven-year-old body –
and they're in there yet – while the dreams
sing on in my head forever, like mosquitoes
whining among the leaves of thorny old roses.

By Kate Barnes, as recited by Garrison Keillor on The Writer’s Almanac of American Public Media

Today's fragrance: Annick Goutal's Ce Soir Ou Jamais, a scent ten years in the making, incorporating 160 essences, including Turkish rose, jasmine, ambrette, cassis, pear, peach and wild flowers. Ce Soir bears a resemblance to the lovely Sa Majeste la Rose of Serge Lutens. I think they may share the ambrette, which affords the scent a warm muskiness. But I found this fragrance to soften into a much gentler rendition of rose, after the sharpness of its first few minutes. A sensual scent allowing one to relax into its ultimately very gentle elegance. (I will always associate this scent with cjblue. Thanks, R.)


Blogger clearing said...

What a pretty story paired with a pretty scent. I didn't know any of this.

9:15 AM

Blogger Tan Lucy Pez said...

Wow. What a good story!

10:23 AM

Blogger Kate said...

As I read this I was imagining you wrote it and then I got to the very end and saw it was actually someone else's life!!

Suprise is fun though. :-)

10:26 AM

Blogger lula said...

I really liked that! You know what? Love can eat you alive like those masquitoes, but, hooya! Smitten by love sure is a lot more fun!

11:07 AM

Blogger dddragon said...

Love the story!

It's hard - nay - impossible for me to imagine what these scents all really smell like. Individual scents, yes, but when they're combined, the text sounds intriguing but I don't get it beyond that. At work they gave us an expensive candle that "mingles black currant, nutmeg, grapefruit and fir with notes of balsam." I better go start sniff it.

12:28 PM

Blogger Doug said...

Great poem. Yes ma'am.

3:56 PM

Blogger AP3 said...

What a beautiful story!

6:04 PM

Blogger the addict said...

Love the story!

I love Ce Soir ou Jamais, partially because of its name...Tonight or Never! What a statement...feels like the climax of a black-and-white movie. Gotta love Annick for that..

6:58 PM

Blogger Fred said...

Well done. Excellent.

10:21 AM


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