The Stinking Rose

The Stinking Rose

Everything I want to say is
in that name
for these cloves of garlic - they shine
like pearls still warm from a woman's neck.

My fingernail nudges and nicks
the smell open, a round smell
that spirals up. Are you hungry?
Does it burn through your ears?

Did you know some cloves were planted
near the coral-coloured roses
to provoke the petals
into giving stronger perfume...

Everything is in that name
for garlic:
Roses and smells
and the art of naming...

What's in a name? that which we call a rose,
By any other name would smell as sweet...

But that which we call garlic
smells sweeter, more
vulnerable, even delicate
if we call it The Stinking Rose.

The roses on the table, the garlic in the salad
and the salt teases our ritual
tasting to last longer.
You who dined with us tonight,
this garlic will sing to your heart
to your slippery muscles - will keep
your nipples and your legs from sleeping.

Fragrant blood full of garlic -
yes, they noted it reeked under the microscope.

His fingers tired after peeling and crushing
the stinking rose, the sticky cloves -
Still, in the middle of the night his fingernail
nudges and nicks her very own smell
her prism open.

from The Stinking Rose (Carcanet, 1995), copyright © Sujata Bhatt 1995, used by permission of the author and the publisher.

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1A Different History

2What Is Worth Knowing?

3Search For My Tongue

4The Stare

5Nanabhai Bhatt in Prison

6Walking Across the Brooklyn Bridge, July 1990

7The Need to Recall the Journey

8The One Who Goes Away

9How Far East is it Still East?

10Cow's Skull - Red, White and Blue


12The Stinking Rose

13If You Named Your Daughter Garlic Instead of Lily or Rose

14The Voices

15Point No Point

16The Snake Catcher Speaks

17The Fox and the Angel

18The Circle

19The Multicultural Poem

20Self-Portrait with Coppery Red Hair

21No Road Leads to This

22In Her Green Dress, She is

23A Colour for Solitude

24Self-Portrait with Yellowish Green

25Two Girls: Nude, One Standing, the Other Kneeling in Front of Red Poppies

26Self-Portrait with a Sprig of Camellia Leaves

27And What Will Death Do?