Inside a highway bar-and-inn
A Perfumer and Poet met.
With purses sad, the artists had
To share the one mosquito net.
The Perfumer had heard the bard
And wondered how this gifted man
Was penniless and loverless,
For he deserved a caravan.
The Poet took his turn to muse
About the fate of fragrant flowers:
The ones who please the honey bees
Lie pollenless come after-hours.
That night the two did hardly sleep,
Nor once a word was ever said,
And come the morn, they carried on
To share the one remaining bread.
The bed and bread were hardened stiff,
The men had softened over them.
And so they talked, along they walked,
And let a friendship slowly stem.
The Perfumer was first to cry
About his jasmine-scented dew,
Which he was sure held much allure
For women courting suitors new.
“The jasmine is moonlight condensed,”
The Perfumer relayed with pride.
“But all they see is just a tree,
And not the potency inside.
“The scent can make our men docile.
And steer them from the ways of force
That they employ and so enjoy
Without regret, without remorse.”
“You sell the plant,” the Poet said.
“And that is why they all ignore.
You need to tell a story well
And show the moon you have in store.
“Your scent is not a liquid, friend.
Your scent is more hypnotic charm
That makes a man do all he can
To bring her love without the harm.
“Your perfume needs a name,” he said.
And took the bottle in his hand.
“A feeling true, a virtue too,
That plucks at a divine strand.
“The name should tug the lover’s rein:
Behave with proper reverence.
To want to touch, but not too much.
I dub thee: _Eden Temperance!_ “
The Perfumer lit up in joy.
It was indeed a name to sell.
And so implored, “O Poet Lord!
“Do name my other scents as well.”
And so were named the perfumes nine
Of fats and flowers and barks of trees,
Which grew around and could be found,
Or came in ships from overseas.
The Perfumer, in his delight,
Again implored his Poet friend
To think not twice, and name a price,
Or name a trouble he could mend.
“I have no troubles, dearest friend,
With poetry from land to sea.”
He shook his head, and smiled instead,
“My only want is legacy.
“For when it hears me sing a verse
My prowess the whole world extols,
From plutocrats to ziggurats,
But no one reads my written scrolls.
“My singing falters as I age
And soon I will lose all my voice,
With readers none, my days are done:
My verses drowned in history’s noise.”
The Perfumer said, “Worry not.
For I can remedy your grief.
To read with zeal, they need to feel
The music on a written leaf.
“The mind is where attention is.
Attention wanders everywhere.
The senses rule the wise and fool,
The common people and the rare.
“If we can rein a dogged sense
It will restrain the monkey mind:
If we can hook the nose to book,
The eyes will not be far behind.”
The Perfumer got down to work:
He mixed some oils with some mud.
They felt it swell, that rising smell
Of poems blooming in the bud.
He rolled a scroll out in his hands
And rubbed the vellum with the cream.
And on it wrote, a little note:
The recipe called _Morning Dream_
“The scrolls will smell of wisdom fresh,
Which deepens as the vellums age.
With each inhale, the scent will sail
And lift your poems off the page.”
The Poet hugged the Perfumer.
The friends together danced and laughed.
Each friend then wept at how adept
His friend was at his chosen craft.
The time then came to bid adieu.
With hopes to see some better days,
With many sighs, with many byes,
They went along their different ways.
The perfume names became a hit.
The Perfumer a millionaire.
From lovely lips to belted hips
The Poet’s scrolls were everywhere.
The bottles sold by carts and ships.
The copy scribes were booked for years.
At times they failed, but still prevailed
Against all fortunes and all fears.
The Perfumer went overseas
To forests full of flowers and fats.
The Poet found commissions sound
In courts and holy ziggurats.
It was therefore so strange a sight:
Despite their many gains and wins,
They dressed in grime from time to time
For sharing nets in highway inns.
It mattered not how hard the bed,
Or how the loaf would hardly bend,
They took the chance, for happenstance,
To find another lucky friend.