Friday, April 24, 2009

Three smell memories:

1. Walking home late the other night, I passed a house with sprinklers on soaking a garden, smelling exactly like coming home at the end of summer right after the streetlights came on, having just adjusted my watch so that it looked like I wasn't getting in after curfew. It's the smell of earth that has spent a day soaking up the sun, of petals waking up and stretching, of powdery mildew forming in the damp and relative coolness, of freckles darkened and muscles sated with movement.

2. Sitting at the bus stop next to an old man who smells suddenly like my grandpa did when I was eight, just before he died, living in the VA hospital with a hole in his throat. It's an antiseptic smell, sharp, but layered halfheartedly over something more unpleasant. Decay, maybe.

3. The diesel smell of a truck driving past my apartment during a soft green sunset, filtering through the lake smell and trees, is precisely the smell of Venice, lost in the cold and the rain and sitting on the edge of a canal with a cat the only living thing in sight. Not knowing that in a few minutes I will come across the back yard of a violinmaker's shop, where the rain will suddenly cease and I will drink a glass of wine and watch those men build their instruments like they are molding them out of their own flesh.

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