NOSE: A STORY
When the wolf boy was captured in the woods outside Paris and taken to King Louis’ court, he couldn’t stand the stench. He covered his face with a bandanna, like a cowboy in a dust storm, until his nose lost some of its wolfish sensitivity. But even after years had passed and he could read the Bible and dress like a minion in foppery and shoes, his nose couldn’t stop coursing the air, flaring its nostrils when a woman entered the room, sometimes going so far as to bury itself in her bare shoulders or nuzzle her breasts if they blurted above the neckline. He met his wife this way. The smell of her never failed to make him drool.
One of their sons became the rose gardener at Versailles, then the owner of a small perfumerie. When the fragrances overwhelmed him, he padlocked the door and disappeared. Some claimed he’d been spotted floating on a raft off the rocks of Gibraltar, where the scents were few and those that reached him had been wrung out by the wind.
The second son became a baker of country breads in Bordeaux. His customers lined up every morning before he opened the blinds and unlocked the door. Except for the waste, he’d have driven them away. All he needed in his life were the smells that wafted from the loaves as they turned gold above the burning wood, then cooled on the shelves beneath the window. He never left his shop but slept like a dog on a rug near the ovens, dough rising on the counters in the dark that would soon be 3 a.m., the hour of suicides and insomniacs, the holy hour at which begins the baking of our daily bread.
About the writer:
An Officer of the Order of Canada, Lorna Crozier has been acknowledged for her contributions to Canadian literature, her teaching and her mentoring with five honourary doctorates, most recently from McGill and Simon Fraser Universities. Her books have received numerous national awards, including the Governor-General’s Award for Poetry. The Globe and Mail declared The Book of Marvels: A Compendium of Everyday Things one of its Top 100 Books of the Year, and Amazon chose her memoir as one of the 100 books you should read in your lifetime. A Professor Emerita at the University of Victoria, she has performed for Queen Elizabeth II and has read her poetry, which has been translated into several languages, on every continent except Antarctica. Her latest books are The Wrong Cat and The Wild in You, a collaboration with photographer Ian McAllister. She lives on Vancouver Island with writer Patrick Lane and two cats who love to garden. For more information, see here.
Image: “Untitled,” by Marie Dashkova, Moscow, Russia. Photograph.