The Divisibility of Smells


Rosa Alice Branco

The Divisibility of Smells


According to the doctrine of infinitive divisibility, there must be some smell of a rose at an infinite distance from it."-George Berkeley, Notebook A, page 877

Through the window comes the smell of morning, of green grass
and roses sprinkled with coolness wedding with the smell
of the drowsy sheets. As the door slams shut, already I smell nothing
but my own perfume, what we all wear over our certainties
and doubts, over the secrets that transfix our flesh.
Soon I will lose myself in the smell of others, that man
bent beneath a sack of potatoes, the florist arranging daisies,
the fishmonger at the neighbor's door displaying bloody gullets
(perhaps because getting up so early and crying out like that
lacerates the throat), children on their way to school, everyone 
who will cross my day and you, who will also cross
my night. I tell you all my hours with the mixture
of aromas of which I am composed and I will hear in your flesh
the subtle difference of the days. Tomorrow I will close the door
and your smell will go embedded in me to an infinite distance
from the roses that sing at the window and I will go down the road
extending my flesh to the offerings of the day.

(Translated from the Portuguese by Alexis Levitin)


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