Sunday, August 9, 2009

Happy slave

This spectacular rose is currently nodding from a bush in my front yard. In spite of my failure to tend it, the bush puts out big, sexy blooms at random intervals. The roses are a joy to look at, but they have almost no detectable scent. After a decade of living with the bush, I know perfectly well there’s no point in sniffing its flowers, but I always do. I can’t stop myself. In my little perfume-addled brain, rose = sweet smell. I just can’t separate the two ideas, and since I have zero self-control when it comes to seeking olfactory pleasure, I must sniff the scentless roses.

I guess this is where I should bemoan the fact that I am a slave to my programming, unable to let my rational mind trump my impulses; but the truth is that I love the zombie-like urge that sends me across the lawn toward deceptive beauty. Like my dogs, who will return to the location of some interesting aroma--dead bird, cat poop, discarded soda can--months after the source of the smell is gone, I see the rose and I’m possessed by lust for a remembered pleasure. Past, present, and future collide in a happy flash of utter stupidity.

Before there was a trace of this world of men,
I carried the memory of a lock of your hair,
A stray end gathered within me, though unknown.

Inside that invisible realm,
Your face like the sun longed to be seen,
Until each separate object was finally flung into light.

From the moment of Time’s first-drawn breath,
Love resides in us,
A treasure locked into the heart’s hidden vault...

(From a poem by Bibi Hayati, a 19th century Sufi poet. The complete poem is at Poet Seers. For a different translation, go to Poetry Chaikhana.)

Rose photo by me. Feel free to share.


Anonymous said...

This makes my heart ache. In a good way.

chayaruchama said...

I completely concur, my sister.

I INSIST on smelling everything-
Just in case I missed something ;)

I CRAVE that olfactory information, however sparse it may be.....
I LOVE my 'lizard brain'.

And you.

BitterGrace said...

We're all part of the sorority of longing, I guess. (Bozo and Leo, of course, are honorary sisters ;-)

Alyssa said...

You are definitely not the only one who sniffs at scentless flowers! (Though I particularly love how you've parsed the impulse.) I'm reading "Flower Confidential" right now, a book on the cut flower trade, and the author writes that, though most scent has been bred out of cut flowers, the first thing everyone does upon seeing them is try to smell them--including herself. Even though she knows all the scientific and economic reasons why she won't be rewarded. It truly is an animal impulse.

BitterGrace said...

That book sounds fascinating. I suspect it would make me stop buying commercial cut flowers altogether. I already feel guilty when I do.

Alyssa said...

Oh, I don't know. It might change who you buy them from, though. She's very unmoralistic and wildly curious--a great tour guide!