“April Showers, Napa Valley,” oil on canvas, by Jules Tavernier, c. 1800.

by Karen Paul Holmes

A perfumery in India has bottled the fragrance

Our ancestors taught us to love
the scent because we need rain
to survive

to raise gardens—golden squash
lima beans, red tulips

to ripple lakes, cleanse us
under blue-white waterfalls
to lick wet lips, to drink in, soothe us

sing to us: the trickling down
windows, patter songs
on tin roofs, on fallen leaves.

Scientists cannot capture love
nor prove it but have found
the scent of rain:

an oil they named petrichor
—from the Greek petra (stone)
and ichor (ethereal blood of gods)—
when raindrops touch porous stone

birthing pinpoint bubbles
which fizz like champagne
lift the essence
blood of the stone—into the wind

to our senses. The elixir deepens
when the land is dry and rain is light:
Scent and sound intoxicate lovers.

And during drought
there’s still a dab behind the ear
or in the hollow
above the wishbone.

Karen Paul Holmes has two poetry books, No Such Thing as Distance (Terrapin, 2018) and Untying the Knot (Aldrich, 2014). Her poems have been featured on The Writer’s Almanac, The Slowdown, and Verse Daily. Publications include Diode, Plume, Valparaiso Poetry Review, and Prairie Schooner. In 2022, Holmes was the Tweetspeak Poetry “Poet Laura” and a finalist for the Lascaux Review Prize in Poetry.