by R. K. Biswas
A few days before she leaves, she teaches me
a new word. Petrichor. And when I forget
its shape and sound, remembering only
the taste, touch and smell of it, she points
to the moist evening outside, inhaling from
the soaked earth, asphalt, flower pots, car tops,
anything that rain cared to visit. Petrichor,
she repeats. I murmur after her. A chant
that I will wear like a talisman in the barren
months ahead. Dread spread by newspapers.
Fear from TV channels. More than what
I had ever dreamed of. At her age I had been
almost foolhardy… But now my heart is wet.
Horses thunder past my bed
when I lie down at night. Their clean animal scents
linger on. I can see the meandering pathway
from her school stables. I see her going
to the most solitary place on earth. Grass pitch
they call it. Her mates and her. Serene. Empty
of everything but the gentlest of beings. Where grass
meets bog meets clear water meets sky meets
slender steep eucalyptus trunks. She comes here
I know. And not always on horseback. She comes here
alone to gather silence. I do not fear this place.
The ones I do, are closer home. I am so
powerless. I cannot compress the world
she inhabits now. I cannot return her
to my womb where petrichor is eternal.