Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Why does death smell so good?

This morning I was walking by a parking lot where a recently murdered tree had been ground up into tiny bits. It smelled wonderful! It was fresh and piney, invigorating, hopeful, and magical. It instantly made me twice as happy as I was. And though that isn't very much happiness because I was not feeling very happy at that moment, it was still something

The smell of a dead, macerated tree was beautiful.

Kill a cow, a nice, friendly, peaceful cow. Hack out a thick chunk of its warm flesh, throw it over some tree you killed and burned into glowing red hot coals. The fat and blood drips from the dead animal and sizzles and sputters and smokes and... oh my god, it's fantastic; evocative, appetizing, indescribable. Rip a garlic plant out of the earth that gives it life, crush its roots. Throw it in boiling oil. Slash at the grass beneath your feet with a sharp knife until the field is littered with your hacking. Rip off part of a sage plant and light it on fire, practically burning it to death, until the smoke of its demise floods into the air. Crush a lavender flower in your hands and smear its purple blood.

Decapitate a rose.

Bring it home.

Breathe it in.

Death death death death death.

And heaven.


  1. the twisted fairy tales come to life again

  2. This was interesting, and not at all what I expected when I saw the title.

    BTW, I was at your library this morning. As I waited for the elevator to take me downstairs, I saw one of your volunteers wipe her nose with a wad of tissue, stuff the tissue back in her pocket, and go one shelving DVDs. I hope she isn't sick.
    I was there to get one-on-one tutoring on use of my new "smart"phone. It did not go well.

    1. I'm glad you found it interesting.

      We have a lot of "post flu" people working these days so you're probably okay as far as that goes, but I really don't trust any of them to properly stay home when this pandemic levels its hammer on our part of town, if it silently hasn't already.

      Sorry about your smartphone experience. In thinking about it I would guess currently there is maybe a 50-50 chance on getting good or bad help in there. That makes me sad.

  3. I heard a story once about a man at the Great Barrier Reef. He was observing the remarkable beauty of the ocean life. Then as closer consideration happened, he realized very deeply that more or less he was watching a great competition, a one-or-the-other feeding frenzy. He said it a lot more interestingly than I'm communicating.

    Oh, there's also the wonderful Wallace Stevens line: "Death is the mother of beauty."

    1. Oh man! Would that I could change the title of the above to "Death is the mother of beauty"! But then I guess I'd be Wallace Stevens.

      I'm not entirely sold on your Great Barrier Reef story though or maybe then not entirely sold on my own. When I'm really in nature it sometimes feels like everything beautiful in it is despite that competition, inbetween it. Maybe everything really good in the world is in the sweet spot between the gods.

  4. Yes, Nature isn't "violent" in the sense that humans are, and so it's a kind of harmony in its own right, even death as part of it.


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