Ineke Rühland: Perfume in a Poem
Michael Storer: Perfume in a Poem

Ayala Sender: Perfume in a Poem

Ayala's Petals on a Wet Black Bough

In a Station of the Metro

The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.

Ezra Pound

It’s hard to say what most appeals to me about this poem – the tactile and photographic impression it leaves in me; the rhythm of the words, regardless of the meaning they possess (or not); or the emotions hidden between the words.

The moody, aloof yet sensitive feel is something I can immediately relate to. It is in the small details we notice about life where our most accurate feelings are defined.

It is difficult not to attach images and past experiences… Hot pavement in the humid New York; The liberating sense of anonymity in Montreal’s Metro… The cherry boulevard above Burrard SkyTrain station, in full bloom washed out by the persistent Vancouver rain… Almond blossoms going to waste in an abrupt Mediterranean thunder storm, losing their vitality like repeatedly-touched butterfly wings... Pink petals set against the dark boughs, indeed.

I want this perfume to be subtle and urban, floral but also dirty. Not from earth, but from dust and pollution… An urban dirt, so to speak. The kind of dirt you wash from your hair after commuting back from work in the Metro, your clothes and skin contaminated with the lives of strangers and passers by. And for a moment you give away a part of yourself just so that you can return back home…

When I was a little girl, I would walk the streets holding hands with my parents of course, and holding air in my cheeks, in hopes that passersby will retain this image of my face and think of me as the girl with the puffy cheeks (you see, I adored babies’ cheeks and wanted quite badly to look like them)… I want this perfume to randomly create an ever-changing, estranged impression on the beings that weave in and out of its presence…

The selection of notes I chose will create a perfume that is woody and wet, dusty yet clean and with a light air of floralcy and a hint of bitterness, reminiscent of cherry blossoms:

Top notes: Cabreuva, Frangipani, Mimosa, Rosewood

Heart notes: Pink Lotus, Magnolia, Tuberose, Violet Leaf, Oleander

Base notes: Haitian Vetiver, Tonka Bean, Cassie, Siamwood, Vanilla CO2, Copaiba Balsam, Bakul Attar 

The way I anticipate the fragrance’s evolution to perform is as follows: The perfume will begin watery-woody and slightly floral from the top notes, leading to the fleeting sensuality of bittersweet florals with a hint of powderiness, suggestive of cherry blossom petals – fluffy, airy and pink. The base is woody-clean yet warm and with a hint of bittersweetness of tonka absolute to further support the same theme in the heart, and a hint of cassie for additional wetness. Musty vetiver creates a pulsation of urban dust set against the overall sweet cleanliness from the other woody notes.

Ayala Sender
Ayala Moriel Parfums


Editor's Note:

I was a fan of Ayala Sender's Smellyblog for months before I had the opportunity to try her handmade natural perfumes.  A learned and eloquent writer on the subject of scents, she explores not only botanical perfumery (which is her specialty), but also the classic and contemporary perfumes which have moved her.  It was in her excellent series "Decoding Obscure Notes: A Series About the Building Blocks of Natural Perfumery" that I finally came to understand the elusive chypre accord.  And when I began to realize that I loved leather fragrances, her article on leather notes in this same series was the first to help me understand why. Ayala

The creator and "nose" behind Ayala Moriel Parfums, Ayala has been crafting scents for over seven years.  Through her website, she currently offers over fifty distinct all-natural fragrances spanning many olfactory categories.  For those who find it difficult to choose from among the many alluring options, the website contains a "Fragrance Questionnaire" consultation page, which one can copy, answer, and email to Ayala for a personal recommendation.  Based on my answers, she suggested selections from several fragrance families, but especially her more ambery scents.  I ordered a set of six sample vials (samples can be purchased individually or in sets of up to 15), and waited to see whether her recommendations would strike a chord with me.

Like individual washes in a beautifully composed watercolor, it is almost impossible to pick out a favorite from among these finely nuanced perfumes.  Song of Songs is based on the passionate Biblical poem of the same name, and includes fragrant notes from "all the Biblical plants and aromatics that were used to cleanse, purify and seduce in that magnificent poem." Indigo is enchanting with its mischievous licorice top note and mysterious, ambery base.  Razala is an exquisitely understated blend which relies on beach-harvested ambergris, precious agarwood, saffron, myrrh, and pink pepper for its magic.  And Espionage, the fragrance I enjoy most often from Ayala Moriel Parfums (and one of her own signature scents) is a seductive leather perfume with a dark ambery vanilla base.  My husband claims that Espionage diffuses uniquely from a distance, and is among the sexiest scents I own.

Ayala Sender And then there is Immortelle L'Amour, an absolutely mouth-watering blend of vanilla, immortelle flower, sweet orange, cinnamon, and wheat.   It smells so good I wish I could bathe in it.  And not only is Immortelle L'Amour available as a confection for the skin, Ayala has also released it as the first in her line of perfumed teas. (And I've also noticed that she's led workshops in the art of truffle confectionary - a seminar I'd love to take!)  Each Ayala Moriel fragrance I have tried from the line has been as lovely and complete as the next, and though I am no closer to actually declaring a favorite, I am delighted that all six of the vials that arrived were winners: an unusual feat for any fragrance line. 

Ayala's business concept is not only about the product itself but about making a contribution to the world through perfumery.  This is clear in her dedication to excellence in her blog, as well as her commitment to the values of self expression, quality, education, sustainability and fair trade, giving back to the community, and opposition to animal cruelty.  For anyone wishing to see further into the creative process of an outstanding perfume artist, she includes detailed notes about the development of her fragrances on Smellyblog, and contributes regularly to perfume forums such as Perfume of Life and Basenotes.

Perfume in a Poem in a Perfume:

Not only is Ayala's "Perfume in a Poem" project here for you to read, she has begun work on the fragrance (as yet unnamed) that was born from her contribution, and will offer a sample of that very exclusive creation to the winner, selected from the commenters on all the posts in this series, of our March 31 giveaway.  Stay tuned to her blog for developments regarding the fragrance created especially from the inspiration of Ezra Pound's poem.

Metro Perfume Giveaway



"Petals on a wet, black bough" photo by Ayala Sender.  Photos of Ayala courtesy of the artist and used with her permission.  Photo of Ayala with roses taken in the "Nahalat Shiva" neighborhood of Jerusalem by Zohar Porat.  Bottom photo by David Griffith. All photos copyright Ayala Moriel Parfums.

Comments are encouraged!  Please read the initial post in this series for the details on our extraordinary giveaway which will take place on March 31.


Posts prior to 2015 first appeared on my previous website, memory & desire (


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I've continually loved the poem...first reading through it at a youthful age in my higher college poetry class. I'm so intrigued and beguiled through the mixture of two outstanding loves of mine...poetry and fragrances. I'm quivering on the concept of sometime becoming in a placement to knowledge this perfume.

Jordan Sneakers

This blog makes me realize the energy of words and pictures. I am grateful that you let us look in! Keep coming up with ideas.

Kelly Luttrell-Payne

I've always loved the poem...first reading it at a young age in my high school poetry class. I'm so intrigued and beguiled by the combination of two great loves of mine...poetry and fragrances. I'm quivering at the idea of sometime being able to experience this perfume.


i love the wetness of this perfume but im not sure it would get dark enough in the base notes to really represent the pollution and dirtiness of a metro station. still sounds beautiful though!


Ayala ~ what wonderfully scented imagery your words conjure! Simply beautiful!


Ayala's words, "the emotions hidden between the words" say it all. How often do we have to say something, but there is an undercurrent of something unsaid? I echo Ruth's thought's of finding that Ayala shared her own soulful thoughts with us; I found myself feeling as if I were on the receiving end of a conversation with her.

I haven't tried Ayala's perfumes yet, but because she cares so deeply for the environment and the animals, I know she is one I will be testing out. Thanks again for this project.


I enjoyed reading Ayala's description - love the images of the "abrupt Mediterranean thunder storm" and "woody and wet, dusty yet clean and with a light air of floralcy and a hint of bitterness, reminiscent of cherry blossoms." I also was interested to learn that cabreuva is a Central/South American magogany. I wonder what is smells like?


I love the interpretation of the metro dirt... not one of the deep woods but of "dust and pollution". Very excited to sniff what urban dirt really is =) From your descriptions it sounds right up my ally (watery-woody).


Ayala recreates childhood memories with her words; her beautiful fragrance brings back even more memories. I get a feeling of deja vu, almost familiarity, without actually having the scent at hand. Beautiful!


"It is in the small details we notice about life where our most accurate feelings are defined."

Time slips past our fingers all too quickly and easily, and somehow, when I put an artificial pause to it - to look back on little moments past, snapshots captured in my mind - that a whole wave of nostalgia hits me suddenly. Thinking about my dad's favourite food, the perfume my mum adores, the laughter of my siblings...puts a smile on the face and a generous dose of warmth in the heart.

Thank you for reminding me of all these with your beautiful words :)


Oh, the baby puffy cheeks image is just lovely:)

And your notes sound very interesting, quite an interesting concept - to think of taking from other people and giving to them, in terms of smell as well. Will think about this next time I'm on the metro and pay attention.

Very curious to see what the final perfume will be like!

Ruth Ruane

Here is a perfumer who I imagine draws from deep down inside herself for inspiration, even if just to find the place that something touches. The other perfumers interpretions seemed to come from outside themselves, Ayalas's came from within, something intimate shared, the way a perfume is supposed to be.

Nicole Meredith

Reading this made me very curious to sample the perfume you sketch out here! Glad you are a part of this project.


I love the image of you holding air in your cheeks..:)
Enjoyed reading your post (as much as I enjoy reading your blog)..
Would love to smell this perfume!

Darlene Johnson

Ayala, I wouldn't call myself a perfumer, as I still have so much to learn and scents to experience still... but Heathers idea here has inspired me to try my first perfume.
Thinking of what this poem would mean to me just seemed to bring the essences I'd want to incorporate into it- together! now whether this vision I have will actually create something beautiful, as I see this poem or a complete mess! -is where knowing the essences and having experience comes in....Cabreuva is one of the top notes I couldn't get out of my mind but this seemed to be a blind choice -so to speak- because all I've had to go on at this point is what I've read about it... sweet ,woody dry/slightly floral- reminiscent of rose and sandal? I wonder if that is close to what it is like? Cabreuva is one of the essences I still need to order and I feel a little better that your experience and your vision of the poem chose it! Thanks Ayala and I would love to sample your perfume!


I would love to smell this fragrance!!


Cabreuva Oil is one that I haven't smelt before. Being extracted from a hard-wood I would imagine it to have more of an effect on the middle-base notes - like cedarwood. I hope Ayala's perfume will be available for sampling, I'd love to find out how it turns out.


What a very different take on this haiku.
I'm struck by the way you envision it, and would love to smell it myself.

You express yourself lyrically.
Many blessings to you !


Ayala, I loved reading your description--such poetic and evocative writing! There is such richness in your statement about metro dirt: "clothes and skin contaminated with the lives of strangers and passers by."

My husband enjoys fragrances, too, and ordered one of your sample sets last fall. I forget which was his favorite, but mine was Finjan, your delicious coffee-and-cardamom inspired scent. Lovely!

Darlene Johnson

you said you wanted this perfume to
"randomly create an ever-changing estranged impression on the beings that weave in and out of its presence" -I think it will- this sound soooo
wonderful! so beautiful!

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