Perfection of the Blue Hour
2013 was a year when the resonating experience of being with three of my loved ones as they died was, for want of a better expression, too big for my body to contain or even to process. It was a year of those dreaded “anniversaries” – anyone who has lost a dear one knows the phenomenon all too well.
It seems fitting that the fragrance, L’Heure Bleue spoke to me on a recent basenotes meetup to Chicago. After being magnetically drawn to meditative, incense based creations throughout the day, when I revisited the classic quietude expressed by L’Heure Bleue, I knew I had found the perfect souvenir of my fragrance pilgrimage to the Windy City. L’Heure Bleue, the fragrance, turned 100 years old in 2012, placing her solidly within my parents’ generation of aesthetics.
As the new year turns on the midnight hour, and the sky eventually brightens, here is a poem, a container, for some of that ocean of feeling that filled the year now past. Wishing everyone a peaceful and Happy 2014 filled with blessings.
His Elegant Death
Dad’s shirt smells of rosewater, musk
and a touch of sandalwood.
His scent lingers on the red flannel shirt he wore
when he died.
People wrinkle their noses
at perfumes they say reek of old lady
but I press this to my face
If I could bottle this –
Essence of Old Gentleman –
You would run to buy it quick
and it would fill you right up with peace.
Basenotes of a soul on earth
for nearly a century
about your shoulders and enfold you
like a shawl of church-less Faith.
Dad fled the Japanese, escaped the Bamboo Curtain of home
and ended up on a blind date:
Then he married the Vixen, the American Beauty with eyes like Vivian Leigh
and nursed that Siren through the ups and downs of her
Oklahoma Demons –
staunching that terrible wound with bare hands and Valentines,
granting the thousand wishes of her heart’s delight.
A futile fight, he fought it anyway.
I wonder now –
was that the Secret of banishing his own?
Because the demons were silent as he lay dying.
Skin and Skeleton melting
before my very eyes:
the disintegrating architecture of a disappearing
He made it look easy.
One desolate day
I opened your journal only to read
“Eat the Bitter in Bitterness, then become Man above Men.”
written in your gently scrawling hand.
Was that it?
As you lay there
Dying your Elegant Death?
Asking for ice chips
with a please
and a thank you
and a radiant glow beaming out from inside of your one good eye?
A deep sigh of satisfaction.
Your naked Thank You
to Life Herself.
How could eating the bitter in bitterness
End so sweetly?
written on the airplane from Newark to O’Hare and back again.
Image: my own, taken at Millenium Park in October, IPhone