The Persistence of Pheromones

It came on a waft of midnight air, caressing his nostrils 

with zephyr tentacles hinting of jasmine, mint and musk 

and the smell of the room after his first awakening. 

It was as much a feeling as a scent, calling out to him 

with thoughts not his own, as if to envelop him 

in its very essence.

Vague images began to emerge that gradually 

took on shapes, appearing to move organically 

against a background of chaotic colors. 

As he stood there, one of the shapes drew closer, 

twirling and glowing so brightly above him

he could not see its true form.

And from it there came a faint hum that grew

stronger and stronger, until it seemed like a song 

with three words endlessly repeated: I am here.   

A deceptively simple declaration, yet the words evoked 

so much more, loneliness and longing, but hope as well.

He ached to see more but could not.

And just as quickly as it had come, it was gone. 

Alone again in the darkness, he inhaled 

deeply, trying in vain to bring back the scent. 


Little did he know it came on a molecule 

travelling for millennia from an unknown world 

through a universe of infinite possibilities.

Akin to certain pheromones observed in moths of Earth, 

its purpose was to seek out and attract, but fishing from 

a wider sea, unfettered by rigid questions of identity.  

Each night, he would stick his head out the window, 

assaulting the air with his nose,

hoping in vain to recapture the scent.   

Then, one night, it returned, more insistent and personal,

as if delivering a message meant only for him.

It seemed as if it were coming from somewhere deep inside him. 

And with it came the same humming voice. I am here. I am here. I am here.

This time, there was more to the song: Look at me. What do you see? 

Worlds upon worlds of being in the otherness of all.    

As the words repeated, the smell became more intense 

and he began to see a shape slowly forming above,

moving ever closer as it came into focus.

Suspended in a billowy cloud, the glowing shape shimmered 

and shifted as if it could not decide whether to reveal itself, 

then finally assumed its true form.  

Covered in scales, it rose gently,

in a swirl of rotary transparent appendages,  

hovering above him like an iridescent dust devil. 

As it fluttered its large feathery antennae, one of them brushed his face. 

He could see himself reflected in each 

of hundreds of dark compound eyes. 

The scent was now overpowering. He tried to look away but could not.

There was something about the way its antennae felt against his face 

that made him tingle and want to reach out and touch whatever it was.

And just as quickly as it had come, the scent and its vision vanished.

All night he sat at the window, trying to make sense of it,

and shuddered at what he had seen and how it had made him feel.

But he could still see it there, swirling gently above him, 

and hear its plaintive song as if calling to him. He could feel 

its presence growing stronger, and with it an attraction he could not explain.

In the past, he had always run from such feelings.

Better to run than to face them. Better not to face the unknown perils 

of a world he preferred not to examine.


All he knew was that he had experienced something beyond himself tonight, 

transcending all he had ever known or thought possible,

and longed only to feel that way again.

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