Advice for the Modern Woman

by | Oct 23, 2012 | Poetry

If you use perfume, you should have…One to use when you are with your lover. Both of you should like it. It is your signature he remembers you by.”

                                                                        -“The Ethics of Perfume,”


With Andrew I smelled like an ocean

vacation, with sand-caked legs and salt-caked

hair, inhaling the morning mist rising from

the sea water. Even in winter, I was summer

in a white bikini, sucking the juice from a ripe

green apple on a beach in Italy.


Just a year earlier I had been a vanilla cigar

cloaked in musk, a feminine variety of sultry

sandalwood with a trace of sweetness that

reflected itself in my freckles. Kyle must

have thought I was mysterious, the kind

of girl who slept on a velvet pillow,

a peppery confidence he could smell on my neck.


Later though, Joe knew a grown-up version:

an organic spice, a creamy white flower planted

in a dimly lit room. A silk gown reclined

in a studded leather chair with bare feet and long,

golden earrings and fiery red nail polish.

The kind of woman that kisses your neck

and bites you—just a little—before turning

away; a woman who wears chocolate

diamonds wherever she goes.








Photo by Crazy House Capers on flickr

About The Author

Susan Elliott

Susan Elliott’s poetry has appeared in The Ohio River Review and Alehouse. She received an MA in English from Saint Louis University, and she will begin her PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Southern Mississippi next fall. She currently lives in Indiana and teaches English.