In every city you’ve visited along the way
a different scent lay down like pine-trees lay
their heavy scent in rain.
You ask me why
I’m obsessed by writing;
and this is the reason:
I am a perfumer
trying hard with all my life
to capture one good scent.
I have smelled the backstreets of Bangkok
and the ozone of the air round Salzburg.
I’ve smelled the butterscotch
of the redwood glades that divot
California with their shadow of green
and I’ve breathed the stillness
burning coldly on the peaks of Africa.
In an earlier life than this
you told me the round of birth and rebirth
would come to anything
only when I wrote
one good poem
and I am still trying.
These are not poems
but notations of the times
my tuning-fork bones trembled and sang
as water does when thunder’s near.
In every city I’ve visited
I sensed your name; subtle and subliminal
like a waft of something
known briefly in childhood
In a world of such theatre smoke;
in the wet-paint world of fragrances like these
who has the right to apathy?
It’s already too late
has already arrived.
She is the body you loved, shortly, on the road,
that rolled out of bed
hours before you woke.
is the heat
and, in the sheets, the scent she left
like the hint of pine-trees we discern
behind the immensity of rain.