Two of my sisters and my niece, Amelia, and I email each other, on a rotating basis, a word of the week, every Sunday. It was Amelia’s turn this week and her word — petrichor — was a revelation to me, a word for what I’ve been I’ve been trying to describe for years, the pleasant smell of rain after a long, dry spell.
A citrus tang layered over an earthy sigh of musk, a release of heat you can smell. More than a dozen words to describe what can be said in a word. Petrichor.
As the word sunk in I remembered I had two poems published in the Petrichor Review a year ago. How did I not notice the meaning then? I always study journals I submit to, carefully looking for a fit between my poems and what they publish. I looked again and saw I hadn’t read past the etymology of the word on the website “about” tab: “Petrichor (pronounced /ˈpɛtrɨkər/; from Greek petra “stone” + ichor the fluid that flows in the veins of the gods in Greek mythology)”
I missed “the scent of rain on dry earth.” No wonder, after reading about a stone fluid in the veins of Greek gods.
The editors of the journal sent me the nicest acceptance email I’ve ever received, saying my poems are “an excellent exercise in poetic restraint; they’re succinct, unpretentious, and casually deep.” (Okay, yes, a bit of brag there.) And they’ve known all along about petrichor, a word I needed and didn’t know exists. No wonder my poems fit in the Petrichor Review.