Eau de Manille.

There is the summer that swelters from the cracks of
this city, that raises the sulfuric ghosts of hurriedly-laid asphalt, the last
gasp of roasted carabao grass, the rusty tang of dust and carbon monoxide, sweat
on vinyl, the fruitless repeated applications of generic baby cologne, garbage
water evaporating from canals muddied with shit and urine and yesterday’s news,
the single massive exhalation of urban human. There is that summer, and it is
inevitable, it is the smell that erupts in your face when you leave your
airconditioned cave or resignedly return from your weekend

I imagine it would make a great,
perverse fragrance.

Mostly, I am not
perverse, and wish to smell less of the city and more of what we have abandoned
to live here, or taken with us in futile hope, like those flower arrangements
frozen in the lobbies of hotels and glass-plated buildings, or public gardens
with well-trained bromeliads.

fragrances are light, linear, yet possess strange collisions of notes. L’Ombre
dans L’Eau is rose and blackcurrant. Ofresia is freesia flower and stem. Both
become herbaceous and fresh on my skin, Ofresia occasioning remarks like, “You
smell like a salad.”

Keiko Mecheri
Sanguine is blood oranges and musk. It makes me think of peeling
the sharp green of the rind, the soft white fibers curling away from the tart
orange heart.

There are smells from
childhood summers that I would one day like to have in a bottle: the creamy yet
astringent flesh of
fruit, mashed into a paste with condensed milk and piped into long thin plastic
bags, to be peeled and sucked on after hours in the freezer;
ade, the normally too-sour thick inner rind gentled into a refreshing drink with
water and brown sugar; the almost-undetectable sweetness of
the cherry-red skin pressed open to reveal starchy yet succulent flesh; the lime
and pink of
the blunt sweetness of
a sticky handful at a time.

We used to
plants right outside the bedroom window, in the house where I grew up. I would
fall asleep to their scent, and my mother told me that beansprouts were actually
so I would eat them. I didn’t catch on till I was nine years old, and by that
time it was too late; I really liked beansprouts.

As I said, mostly, I am not