Anything but rotten, such flowers are ill 
named, remaining exempt from the compost fate 
      by a decorum of fatigue, keeping still 
             the power to generate 
a world of their own, long since over the hill,

      or of ours. Inhale them and you can recall 
—what? Whatever is recoverable just 
      and only just for having been, after all, 
           forgotten. Closer—you must 
put your nose right into the powdery ball

      of bloom to get the good of it, past the blue 
of unrecognizeable gentians, past wild 
      roses tamed to mild rose, even past a few 
           patently dead leaves reconciled 
by dust with the livid petals. There. Now you

      have it, strong for all the insistent pastels 
(as if life were forged by Marie Laurencin— 
      or death, for that matter), now you have the smells 
            of a room we first met in: 
two kittens, pot, and the pungence that wells

         up out of the ampoules of amyl nitrite 
apparently used, chez Tom, instead of sauce 
        béchamel. That was a foregone appetite, 
           though it makes less of a loss 
if you couple the lovemaking our first night

         with a myth instead of with a person—me, 
yourself, whoever in between: we become 
         creators when we have a past. So make free 
                 with the odors coming from 
this irresponsible present: breathe deeply,

            and a bed in Vermont will be unmade; stir 
the wan remains and you will have invented 
            closets in Florence which were 
                   identically scented, 
clearings in Hawaii heretofore a blur—

           I know. I’ve tried it, slipping habit’s traces 
by a quick whiff myself, gaining from partial 
           immersion the totally risen graces 
                     of going down into all
the intimate reek, the must of dark places.

           Now you take over. Each garden is a grave, 
I grant you, but there are resurrections here: 
          our senses make us giants in what time we have 
               (Proust’s law)—use yours then, my dear, 
on a gift that savors of more than we can save.