Essence – Poem


When she brought home little samples
of cologne, wisps of scent
in slender tubes, he tested them
brutally, slapping the wet notes
against his neck like any novice
applies perfume, without respect
for the delicate molecules,
rubbing his wrists together
as if trying to start a fire
with his skin, or worse,
spraying the air
in front of him before walking through
it like a curtain, as if stage-
frightened by that most sensual
of senses, that reminder
of his mother’s lipstick
or an earthy garden
moistened by rain. Once
they were all drained,
he resurrected an old vial
from a cabinet beneath
the bathroom sink, the bottle-dust
thick as velvet against his fingers,
its fragrance potent
with time, its smell
in the soft slope of his neck
like a hallway in a high school
building long condemned, or sex
in a car.

4 thoughts on “Essence – Poem

  1. There’s just something about the “brutally” that makes me sit up and shout, “I know that guy!” Such exquisite ickyness. And, then you make me feel for him again. Love it.

    • Thanks! There are all these ‘rules’ in the perfume world – you shouldn’t rub your wrists together or spray it & walk through it are apparently two of the pet peeves (I can understand the second one if you’ve paid what some people pay for their perfumes, but the first one? who cares), so that was where the idea came from.

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