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Featured Poem • July 2015


The Perfumer


Alicia Cole


The Valley of Search In the first valley, I smelled you. Precious wonder, ghaliya, yet as bilious as the thorns restraining me. Longing, your scent as fleeting as the river’s rush. The Valley of Love The hand of the rose’s hip curls, singing. At the lip of the next valley, a ring of light—the heart’s welling hope—and a bird, out to break loose the dawn’s plumage, flying. The Valley of Knowledge Protect me as I walk the third, learned and trembling. At my breast, the white curved esporghami. The thinning formation of birds; the hoopoe bird leading, crowned. The Valley of Unity As though entering a caravan, son of the father, the scent thickening on burners—resinous wood, this fourth valley, the joining of hearts, a journey just won. The Valley of Contentment A hard lotus, the pooling lake. Journey of the fifth valley: the lotus may flee its softness for the other’s sake, or may fold into still dissolution, a plea. The Valley of Wonderment Water, the drink of the birds’ wings, the sway of their bodies’ limitless flying. Splay: the smell of salt and aloe, the top note of date—the scents’ mingling. Rapture, stay. The Valley of True Poverty and Absolute Nothingness They nurse under leaves, hiding from the rote swirl of the last birds flying, the green float of milkweed rising over. Butterflies, not yet ready: what the last valley wrote.



Alicia_smAlicia Cole is a writer, editor, publisher, and educator who lives in Lawrenceville, GA, with her photographer husband and a menagerie of animals. She’s the cofounder of Priestess & Hierophant Press. Her work is forthcoming in Drabblecast, Glitterwolf Magazine, and Eternal Haunted Summer.

About “The Perfumer,” she has this to share: “I came to Attar of Nishapur’s The Conference of Birds via Peter Sis’s graphic adaptation. I’ve been a fan of sequential art since middle school and found Sis’s illustrations the perfect vehicle to enter the text. The Conference of Birds aligned with my own inner spiritual questing, and I found I had to journey through each of the valleys personally, augmenting each Rubaiyat, my chosen form in homage to Attar, with a certain perfumed meditation to accompany each valley. I hope the scents travel far.”



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