Thomas Lux


When it rains on a dry garden, there’s a word
for the smell that results.
The word itself is not aromatherapy,
not to my ear.
The oily essence released is.
A word made from stone and the blood of gods,
if gods have blood.
It’s not a tasty word, not a word first for the mouth.
Not for my mouth.
I loved the smell.
I lived in a house surrounded by cornfields
and we needed the rain and when it did rain
we were glad for the silage it provided,
but no one ever said: Smell that!
No one said: Note the ozone notes,
the hint of cedar, and fresh grass stains.
Corn’ll stand up stiffer tomorrow, someone did say.
I’m glad there’s a word for it,
even though the theorists said language can’t
be trusted, (Oh where, oh where, did the theorists go/
I think I know.) I’m very glad
to learn there’s a word for it
though I’ll neither write it
nor ever say it aloud.
I will take it in my mouth, my nose, gulpfuls
with my lungs
until the former ceases to sniff
and the latter fly away
over the brown hills.

Thomas Lux‘s latest collection is Child Made of Sand, (Houghton Mifflin 2012). Other books include God Particles, The Cradle Place; The Street of Clocks; New and Selected Poems: 1975-1995, a finalist for the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize; The Blind Swimmer: Selected Early Poems: 1970-1975; and Split Horizon, winner of the Kingsley-Tufts Poetry Award. A finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award in Poetry and recipient of three NEA grants and a Guggenheim Fellowship, Lux holds the Bourne Chair in Poetry and directs the McEver Visiting Writers Program at Georgia Tech in Atlanta.