How to Inhabit the Word

Nina Li Coomes in Guernica:

Wet earth. Loam. Bitter ash, brine on the wind. The unfurling of cedar, a smell that takes me out of this place and back to bathtubs in Japan; a portal of a scent, sacred and red. These are the smells of the Pacific Northwest wood from where I write this. In the daytime, as light pours around the unfamiliar landscape, I think of it as a new smell, something to gulp. But last night, clambering up the half-hill toward the cottage where I am staying, I took another breath and was suddenly tearful. The damp soil transformed into the smell of my Jiji, wood-smoke mimicking cigarette-smoke lingering in the folds of his shirt.

To read In Sensorium is to be made as aware of the sensuousness of place, time, and body, as I am now aware of all the smells around me. When I tried to read your essays back in my Chicago apartment, I found myself frustrated and lost in the swirling meditations. I was distracted and fractured, couldn’t slow down to digest. But here, alone in the deep quiet with nothing to do but move my body through the day, your prose has opened up for me. Or rather, I have opened up to your prose.

More here.