Gris-Gris, an online journal of literature, culture & the arts

Petrichor

by Emily Strauss

 

The scent of rain on dry earth

or the scent of dust after rain:

 

from the Greek, petra, a stone

and ichor, the fluid that flows

in the veins of the gods, thus

the black volcanic rock of Thera

of the Cyclades, where gods

bled until the volcano blew

a hole 1200 feet deep into the sea

 

the caldera filling with crystal

blue waters warmed by magma,

on the sheer cliffs high overhead

a hot desert with too little rain

to sustain any vegetation at all

or at most a very scanty scrub,

evergreens with leathery leaves

 

where drops fall on bare stone—

if you kneel to sniff the wet rock

you catch the sweat of Poseidon,

the blood of sacrifice of sailors

who drowned horses in his honor,

and Athena, who built the first ship

to sail the sea over which he ruled

 

the rain like meager tears shed

one by one by Eos, which created

the morning dew, rise before dawn,

climb the cliff paths, touch the cool

stone before sunrise, smell the dust

settle, the moisture fading as the sun

touches, petrichor faint and fleeting.