Thursday, April 30, 2009

Powdered Asphodel

Balsthal Aargau found a notebook hidden in the woodpile behind the Waymart. On the second page he read,

“Parmeno: And she concocted other cosmetics from powdered asphodel, senna, snakeroot, gall, sour grapes, and new wine, distilled and sweetened with sugar. For softening the skin she used lemon juice, turpeth, deer and heron marrow, and other confections. She manufactured toilet waters from roses, orange-blossom, jasmine, clover, honey-suckle, carnation, and reseda, powdered and soaked in wine…You would never believe what face-washes she distilled from storax, jasmine, lemon, melon-seed, violets, benzoin, pistachio-nuts, pinekernels, grape-pips, jujube, fennel, lucerne, vetch, sunspurge, and chickweed. And she always carried a little balsam in a flask, to rub into the sore she has on her nose. As for maidenheads, some she repaired with bladders and others with a few stitches. She kept a stock of fine furrier’s needles and waxed silk thread in a little painted box on her shelf; and hanging from it were roots of spikenard and red sumach, squill and cardoons, with which she worked marvels”

Agog, his lips dry from sounding out each word, he placed the notebook under his cloak and hightailed it in the opposite direction, the smell of jasmine and storax prickling his nose. Balsthal Aargau fell upon poor luck, never to be seen or heard from again. This is not uncommon; the end coming before the first hurrah.

[1] Fernando de Rojas, ‘La Celestina’, (Tragiccomedia de Calisto y Melibea), 1499, some 500 years before Ulysses.

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"Poetry is the short-circuiting of meaning between words, the impetuous regeneration of primordial myth". Bruno Schulz

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