I watch the mesquite-scented smoke plume rise from the incense burner and remember Winters in the New Mexico desert.

As the candle flame burns down, so many votives I have lit for people at St. Patricks cathedral, I remember them, too.

And the etched bronze block, with its sheared off corners, expertly carved by a woman I once knew.

The clock is stuck at 8. I can’t remember why.

There are the Cloisonné match stick covers that no longer hold matches, and the matching round box that contains useless things.

And the fossilized leaf, tucked within its slate stone, too big for my pocket.

And the dice. Where did they come from? No, I don’t remember.

And the silver piece etched with the word ‘Play.’ Not ‘Love,’ no, nor ‘Life,’ but ‘Play’. I shall try, thank you.

And the Sagittarius paperweight to remind me I am, What? A Centaur, or that I have a fondness for arrows?

And the white and blue porcelain box with the letter “G,” to remind me, what? That my name starts with “G,” lest I forget that, too.

And my Oliva Porphyria sea snail shell. Perfectly formed. Wanting to return to which particular ocean, I remember not.

And the bottle of Cognac Frapin VSOP, drained to near emptiness by the lips of guests drawn to its aroma and the promise of a slight burn at the back of the tongue.

And the East Indian incense burner, a funeral bier for the long ago rolled up unsmoked joint given to me by a friend, in the spirit of an American Indian peace pipe, the preservation of which seemed more in the spirit of peace than the smoking of it, which I imagine would remain cocooned as it has always been within plastic were I to shut the door, turn the key and never return.

I watch the mesquite-scented smoke plume rise from the incense burner until the last ember flickers out.

Though the scent will remain,

Like a woman’s cologne,

and everything else impossible to erase about her.