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Smelling Her Perfume

A good fragrance is really a powerful cocktail of memories and emotion. ~Jeffrey Stepakoff

You smell the ocean’s perfume before you see her but, by the time you set eyes upon her beauty, the aroma of her perfume has long since dissipated like the love between two partners that have long drifted into the indifference of lives focused inwards beneath the shimmery surface, focused on getting mine rather than celebrating the other and growing the us. Self-centered. Self-imposed isolation slowly transforming into a corpse rotting from the inside out. A slow suicide.

The perfume has a sister fragrance. It’s a bouquet wafting from the still waters in the Northern, Wisconsin Lake Country filtered through pine and oak tresses alive with squirrels who’s tails bounce neurotically, alive with tawny white-tailed deer seen in a white flash as they bound, gracefully dance deeper into the forest, a forest alive with the buzz of insects praying for solace from the sun’s intensity.

The perfume of the ocean is a tad bit spicier than that of the lakes, perhaps, it’s the salt intertwined with the scent, perhaps the sheer volume of the ocean means there is infinitely more scent available to fill the nose, perhaps it’s the massive waves crashing against the sand using the shore as a fulcrum to cast tiny scent messages deep into the world, messages riding the arrows of the sun striking and piercing my skin pink before the revelry of the perfume dissipates.

The scent is more fleeting than the squadron of screaming jets, shrieks overwhelming the stacked layers of sound at the beach, the incessant screech of the gulls high in the sky squabbling for the best flight path, the gleeful bark of the dogs splashing in the cooling ocean, the murmur of waves repeatedly ticking the shoreline, the whisper of humans in distant conversation, the deep exhalations of the flowers surrounding me.

If you look for the jets by sound you will see sky, empty sky, empty sky punctuated by bleached clouds, a void filled by sound. To glimpse the giant birds before they bank into the netherworld, it is necessary to look away from their thunder, look far ahead to see the effortless flash of jagged grey lighting streaks, two, maybe three streaks moving in synchronous unity slicing through the sapphire heavens, cleaving Zion from Elysium, cleaving Valhalla from Nirvana before disappearing into the heart of the billowing, ivory blanket towing the perfume of the ocean along until the scent becomes a phantom, a quickly forgotten memory, a ghost flitting bird existing just outside of mental recollection causing one to question its existence.

Perhaps her perfume never truly existed. Perhaps it was the product of an overactive imagination bent on finding beauty in a world short of intimacy. Perhaps it was the heart longing for a loved one left sleeping on the pillow. Perhaps the conjured scent is a way of keeping the memory close to the heart while the lovers are parted.


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