The Scent of You


Oh, but we were young,
and it was so long ago.

We couldn’t have imagined that smoking
would ever be banned from all public places, even bars.

You and bars went together, and later, we went together to bars.

The day I knew I loved you I was in a bar
with a forgotten, forgettable boyfriend,
and you were a stranger holding a pool cue.
I was certain you’d seen me, just as I’d seen you.

I stepped into a crystal pause;
the cleanest place I’ve ever been,
and your spirit was there with me,

and yet, a touch of your sweat,
a clean cotton shirt half drenched in smoke,
a hint of building site in the hair
and the breath of beer –
combined, they’re the essence of you.

Years of secret meetings followed.
We drank and smoked then drank some more.
We hid  in dim places, and you drunkenly drove me home,
going slow to save us from harm, all the time knowing that although the drink-driving laws had not been formed, still it was wrong, and I knew that you drank because you
couldn’t stop.
and yet,
and yet, the cleanest place I ever went was wherever I went with you;
while our acts were irresponsible and you had a problem,
our love was pure.

After I called an end to our beautiful duplicity,
every time I passed a bar with an open door
I inhaled a synthetic form of your essence;
aside from memories it was all could find of you.

The years have passed and now patrons go outside to smoke.
The odour that seeped into the walls of  and floors of bars
has evaporated or been painted away.
These days they smell only of alcohol and aftershave,
with the occasional addition of both clean and unwashed clothes.

I miss the old-time fragrance of you.

As cohabiting lovers age, their palettes mix,
the colours once so brightly daubed, fade to pastel hues,
their fragrance changes too, so if I met you now, my love,
would your perfume make me swoon the way it used to do,
or would it smell of family life;
of dinners, dog, and scented wife,
and would she smell of you?

And if we’d lived our lives as one, right up until today,
would the smell of smokey bars have made me feel that way,
and when the smoking ban was rightly brought to force,
would I, somewhere deep inside, still have felt the loss,

and, darling, would I notice that both your scent and mine
had grown together all those years, until they intertwined?

Written for The Daily Post #Fragrance

©Jane Paterson Basil

16 thoughts on “The Scent of You

    1. Elvis did a concert somewhere. The white kerchief around his neck was damp with sweat, and he threw it to the audience. The fan who caught it claimed it smelled of fresh spring water. It probably didn’t, but that was her perception of it, as she adored him…

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Most of my relatives smoked. Yet strangely my first love did not. I found it hard to to give up. When every fibre of the body cried out for nicotine … that was in 1978 the first time. Finally stopping after several stops and starts, in 1984. Do not regret that, at all. For my body is still paying for it’s addiction. Other drugs also make havoc with health. As too gambling. Where the thrill of winning surpasses all others. They say it is a pleasure? For myself it is pain. Cheers Jamie

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, yet for many it is heavily addicting. We’re not talking football pools here. Machines that can chew through money like no tomorrow. Whether it is a quarter or two dollars. The lights whirr, the game face changes as the [player gets an opportunity to increase their bet before losing. Yet if they win? A light above announces this to all the other gamblers in the room. The house collects 70% … Cheers Jamie

        Liked by 1 person

          1. Several years ago I was in Las Vegas. It’s very gauche …. yup depressing is not the right word? Bo-r-r-ing … maybe? Then there’s the inevitable drugs and prostitution … I suppose? The strip in Vegas is really bizarre. I didn’t want to go but was coerced into it. Cheers Jamie

            Liked by 1 person

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