Lily by Robert Mapplethrope
By Marie-Hélène Wagner
The florist brought out humongous bouquets of white and pink lilies onto the city curb. She studded them with a plastic price tag like a big hat pin protuding out of a giant bun. The flowers turned into accidental shrubbery started wafting in unison down the street. They smelt like they are supposed to: floral, green, spicy, indolic -- like Lilies. A good inhale in passing to check on them...
I thought about Baiser Volé by Cartier; I also thought about how medieval poets spoke the symbolic language of beauty by pairing the pink of roses with the white of lilies.
Tracing back my steps some ten minutes later, I was struck by a new olfactory nuance: chalk. Like in spicy Indonesian cooking softened by the addition of a piece of white chalk, lilies are partly composed of this soft, opaque, intensely white mineral nuance. Chalky lilies.
Related: Spring Notes: Red Lilies