After a death

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I’ve heard that one shouldn’t, but I mix scents : so by the time I am perfuming my left wrist – usually with common notes of rose, violet, and amber – it seems I am not a woman, not even two, but a diaphanous mix of fragrances. As if I only exist as a floating memory between mashobra honey and vanilla, my eyes are nothing but mists of sandalwood and orange peel, and my lips have turned into barks of cinnamon. And, my love, it is then, when I exist as almost air, I look for you between continents of this world and the other, between the Delhi smog and the ancient waters of Roman baths, between Himalayan pomegranates and Syrian blood, between the Arabic of Agha Shahid Ali and the watermelons of Frida Kahlo. I look and I look, and yet, my love, I never seem to find you.

Only once, I don’t remember how long ago, during a game of Chinese whispers, I’d heard your name as a murmur – I think it began with you, but I don’t how, or who altered it so that by the time you reached me, you were someone completely else. Sometimes, I think, my dear, all the men’s names I remember are nothing but misspellings of yours.

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