Thursday, June 23, 2022




My friend said, “Take this,

it’s more you than me. My boss

brought it back from Italy.”

“Little Italy,” I said. “It’s just

a version of Fendi.” Offended,

she left. If perfumeries, in their

flimflammery can depose attar of rose

to mere coal tar perversion, why not

“Inversion of Fendi?” Instead of attracting,


this perfume could repel, excite

if only for the length of a smell

with the option to create one’s own world,

to corrupt a perfume which once could be counted on

to deliver essence of lily to my earlobe

and a man to my feet,


when I still wanted that. And why should I when

the real essence of our time together isn’t love

but approximation brought on

by proximity, by shared toothbrush holders,

pajama bottoms, colognes, a belabored labor

of clasps and gasps and orange juice

spiked with disinterest.


So maybe I go shopping. Maybe the scent draws

me in to someone else’s funeral where I find

Lily, rich and falling over

in bloom. Maybe I doubted her existence,

essence not aroma but supine elegance

created solely to disturb my equilibrium.


But am I kidding myself? Initially, bouquets

were placed at head and feet so you could approach

the corpse without gagging. Corpses

don’t stink these days, but banks

of flowers scream, “Dead person ahead!”

And it’s my life which smells

of embalming fluid until I sense

the real essence of flowers, and at a kneeling rail

for supplicants like me, I discover what happens


to those who want only to worship her

cascades of bloom, not the rot

in the casket, not here where they are tucked

and trussed so tightly in imposed bouquets

there is no room for individuality,

and even her colors run together and are stained

with that vein of purple blood which links

us all to each other, where artistic impulse ends

in the grave, a pool of mud where someone

other than us is bent


on tidy categories, strings of delineation

that keep flowers and women nameless and aromatic.

I want to say I cut her free, but she was cut

anyway and no one could touch her essence. I want to say

I drove out that night, leaving you, and now my own life

lures me along new high ways and solitary lanes

where untidiness is all I speak of,

defending Fendi herself.


©2021 Muriel Thumm



  She was dying    She was always dying The newest and most original    ailments kept coming We took a bathos    in her pathos U...