A Journal of Contemporary Arts 


Smell: A Cosmological Inquiry



Frederick Turner




Why do we humans love the smell of flowers?

How do the flowers know the tastes of bees?

Fruit-scent, food-signal, lacks for us the powers

Of blossom-perfume, meant for bees to please.


Does this, then, point to some mysterious freeing?

For why would we prefer a plant-hormone,

The wave and pointer of another being,

The bees’ food-sign and lunch-bell, to our own?


The world’s all signalings. There is no matter

That is not old and hibernating signs.

What was once information, photon-chatter,

Is knit into the molecule’s confines.


The flower’s sweet and tinted symmetry

Traps something more than just the humble bee.





Or is it sex that makes us love the scent

Of flowers more than that of offered food?

The starving lover in his ravishment

Neglects his belly for a greater good.


But no. His lady strives, with dainty care,

Dabbing plant-perfume on, to hide or mask

The human sex-smell lest it taint the air,

Denying what her lover did not ask.


Is then the virtue-signal more perverse,

More fatally attractive than her lap—

Aping the information-universe

When it entombed its light in matter’s trap?


And so the flower-smell, with lying breath,

Offers a fruit that makes a mock of death.