We packed a lunch in an old leather box: French bread, a bowl of ripe plums, salad with a vinaigrette, red wine, a block of cheese. Cardamom and the bitter insides of the box mingle with the food on our breath. Ants make lazy, filigreed patterns across our gingham blanket, gravitating toward the woman in ever-elaborate formations. They've come all this way to find her, I think to myself. They traveled through tall grass, single file. The scent of the petals, maybe, which have asked a question they want to answer. Maybe they're drawn to her golden chiffon scarf, the way the petals settle there, as if in mid air, floating on a shifting cloud of colored smoke. She doesn't seem to notice their advance. She's gripped by a memory only she can see.
Maybe she's my mother, and this is a shared memory. We're in it together, only I'm so deep inside it I can't place it in time. It might be my grandmother, and this smell around us is the memory of sneaking into her bathroom so often as a boy, that little bottle in her medicine cabinet, something which smelled her age, telling me when I put it to my nose where she came from, what it felt like there, years ago. The faint smell of ash must be her cigarettes. I felt separated from her, smelling her past so secretively. Connected, but cut off. The woman might be a mirage; a figure in a dream. Maybe I'm dreaming about my childhood and an interconnected series of perfumes which speak from that place. Cabochard, Miss Balmain, Azuree, Diorling.
The wind blows through the woman's hair, stirring up the petals there. They scatter and dance about on her scarf, frantic polka dots, skittering under the layers of chiffon. The breeze brings in the last of the ants, speeding their arrival. On their backs they carry a disconnected bouquet of flowers: iris, jasmine, rose. The cargo is nestled in a bed of oakmoss. All of us are gravitating towards the same central point of some unspecified feeling. The flowers are trying to speak for the ants, they've arranged them into words, but I don't speak the language, and the woman, who might know it, is too distant to translate.