01 June 2006

The mystery coat, a rainy day, and essences

Several people asked me about the coat that I featured in my other site last month. Here it is again.
It belongs to Jenny, who is the middle unhappy person in this group portrait of today.

It is a gloriously wet day, one of the few we've had over the past years. Glorious for some, but every drop of rain falling upon these coats is a Greek tragedy to the wearers. Bleakness shines from their eyes. Their ears are eloquent.

I wish you could smell them now. When wet, their essence is most alluring. Jenny especially, smells like crushed cardamom and coriander, and she wears her perfume better than any human I've ever known. (It fits her scent that her favourite food is rich fruit cake.)

But she isn't unusual. Many others smell better than humans, no matter what we put on ourselves. I knew a cat who smelled like a better-than-any-that-is-sold baby powder, and another cat who, if Hermes (of the silly scarves) could have crushed and bottled her . . .
and one day, after another spell of rain, a frog:

Safe Haven

Nestled in the spaghetti colander on the rain tank's top,
where roof-water sluices from the pipe — a frog.
The grey of mottled eucalyptus bark
invisible there but not so safe
to kookaburras patient as stones.
Fast as frogs, they flash.

The size of the palm of a child.
Underneath, a swaddled celery green.
Damp rubber toes and fingers curl around my finger cage.
Dappled grey eyes grasp me
with the calm query of an old grandfather.
And when I stretch his back legs gently, just to look
(to his unnervingly dispassioned gaze) a flash
into his private world. A stripe
for showing in the briefest
moment of his fullest leap.
Signal yellow, round black spots
like a very shy man's underpants.

I took him to the dark, damp sheltered gully.
Palm open as a lily pad, I sat, and the frog sat, too,
just watching me, and who knows, meditating?
No wind, no sound.
Then suddenly, he hopped and disappeared
deep into the humus.
I nosed my hand and it smelt like
Christmas sugar cookies (cardamom)
lightly brushed with eucalyptus, lemon,
and a hint of tea tree leaves.


Spencer said...

That's a wonderful poem.

Faren said...

Yes, and blogs could use more (good) poetry! Here in AZ it's too dry to smell much of anything, but I wonder what you'd make of the horned toad I spotted the other day.

Vera Nazarian said...

Wonderful poem and I love Jenny and her fellows!