the power of scent

"I can signal a sequence of events in my life that are instantly recallable in the context of their fragrances, that bring forth the character of those moments in a startlingly clear evocation of that instant. Scent travels from the moment to the mind in the gathering of those touches in time.

Scent is place and memory—it is experience recalled. Every scent, in the microscopic particulate nature of its diffusion, is distinctive, unforgettable to those who are mindful, informing a significant part of our experience. The memory is a story." ~ Tim Girvin

by Justin Chin

In the beauty shop, the saleswoman dabs
a touch of bergamot to my right wrist;
I grind the spot staining
my thin skin and vulgar veins
stretched across my carpus to the left
of its image; the friction
spreads the scent into my pulse
and I bring my newly aromatic
joint to my face.

This was before I knew the name
of that heady scent spilling
from teacups filling cafes
in steam and clink of pastry plates.
Before how the smell of a big pot
of chicken soup cooking in my kitchen
changed. Before I knew how
perfumous desire was, before I knew
the whiff of missing a lover.



Dave Renfro said...

My nose for perfume is not so keen, but I know what experiences will rush back if I ever catch a wiff of downtown Mogadishu circa 1993. To think I read 4300 pages of Proust last year to learn what Tim Girvin wrote in two short paragraphs.

Hi mule friend!

gz said...

I have a coat that, despite washing, still smells right....

red dirt girl said...

Hi Dave~

Wow - all of Proust! I'm impressed. I hope there are scents that provoke fond memories for you as well: the smell of a clean, sleepy baby. Your wife's favorite shirt ...


red dirt girl said...


Even after washing ... that's the best!


GEWELS said...

Hey RDG, Nice to see you again. As you can tell I'm not blogging AT ALL. Should try to get back to it but have nothing much to say.
How is everything with you?
Miss you!!!!!

goatman said...

There was chatter awhile back about theaters' pumping scents into the audience which would reflect and enhance the scenes being shown. As the hero peels out in his Camero in would be burning rubber and later the smell of napalm in the morning, if the scene required. The dealer and his girl walk into the pool hall and in would come Patchouli and Charlie to accentuate.
Seems like timing would be a problem though: Pumping out the 270,000 cubic feet of odiferous air in order to introduce the sweet scent of a love scene in the immediate flashback might be problematic without air handlers as big as the theater.
But just whatever odor needed to overcome the sweaty Texan sitting next to me might be just the solution!

red dirt girl said...

Hi Gewels, girlfriend!!

How goes it?? I miss you too. Yes, sometimes it is difficult to find a flow of topics to blog about .... I'm surviving: good days and bad days.


red dirt girl said...


Blech! Scratch and sniff movie experiences!! Not the sort of memories I want to keep forever - especially as most of the latest films I've watched I want to FORGET! Yes, that bad. Sweaty Texan, eh? I think I'd have to change seats or bury my nose in my popcorn bucket...You could carry some Febreeze in your girl's pocketbook and spritz here and there ....on the sly of course. Ha! :)