Audio: Read by the author.
Before rain hits the ground,
it’s water. It has no smell.
After it hits the ground, it’s
memories: my mother,
on crutches, moving toward me,
in rain, that last dry summer with her,
or a man, who later became my
husband, in a tent with me, in the
petrichor air, our bodies becoming
changelings, becoming a new house-
hold, becoming new gods, with
their own new myths. I was taught
that before the priest raises the host
and wine and says, “This is my body;
this is my blood,” and before the altar
girl rings the bells, the host is bread,
the wine is wine. After the words,
the host is God’s body; the wine is
God’s blood. Transubstantiation: me
after him, a baby sucking my nipple,
rain ribboning windows. Now
my six-year-old grandson, in the early
August rainy morning, piano-practices
“The Merry Widow Waltz.” Before
I was a widow, that song was
only a practice piece, a funny
opera. The rocks along my lake
are always most beautiful in rain.
In rain, their colors deepen and shine.
The smell after rain hits the ground
has a name: petrichor,
from the Greek words petra,
meaning stone, and ichor, which is
the fluid like blood in the veins of gods.