rose perfume

Send me dead flowers to my wedding
And I won’t forget to put roses on your grave

She wore it during my medieval literature class – rose perfume.

I whispered to the girl next to me, “It smells like death in here.”

Originally, I thought the scent belonged to the blonde  sitting several seats away. It wasn’t until later, during her office hours, that I realized it belonged to the professor.

Her rose perfume, the one earring that dangled from her left ear, her index finger air dancing in a rhythmic fashion as she recited a passage from Beowulf:

A CUP she gave him, with kindly greeting
and winsome words. Of wounden gold,

she offered, to honor him, arm-jewels twain,

corselet and rings, and of collars the noblest
that ever I knew the earth around.

Ne’er heard I so mighty, ‘neath heaven’s dome,
a hoard-gem of heroes, since
Hama bore
to his bright-built burg the Brisings’ necklace,
jewel and gem casket. — Jealousy fled he

I made the distinction that I didn’t care for her kind of eccentricity – her choice of perfume. My perfume had base notes of sandalwood, cedar, vanilla, musk – a disguise of layers like plumes of rising smoke.

Hers was a single note, a strong penetrating scent that was obtrusive and lingered like a death march. She often changed the dangling earring but never the perfume.

It is the irony of our finicky nature. She would later become a reoccurring character in my life – a woman who appears in the back of mind more often than old lovers and friends. I felt sorry for her in youth’s ego, thinking no man would ever marry such a woman who lived so closely to such archaic, dull writers as Chaucer and Kempe. The one earring was a cry for someone to save her; and the rose perfume was an intonation of her death.

Perhaps she was the possessed kind, leaving imprints for the vulnerable to follow. When I stepped out of the shower this morning, after applying moisturizer and brushing the gray strands to the side of my face, I reached for a sample bottle of perfume (since I am currently without signature scent).

It smelled of roses. And I loved it.