His skin smelled like smoke hanging at the nape of his neck. He smells of the ceremony, clinging to his tight muscles. My head is on his chest as his heartbeat flutters, racing faster and faster. His heart rhythm is the horse’s hooves beating at the earthly ground. His hands are rough, covered in callous. His hands showed the amount of work he had endured, and his arms were sun-kissed. He is the warmth from the ceremonial fire, the heat radiated from his skin. My bitter hands held his toasty, thick hands. His fingers interlocked with mine. My fingertips etched his tattoos, gliding over his arms and his back. I feel vulnerable here with him, safe in his arms. I close my eyes and the smell of smoke takes me back to him.
Petrichor lingers amongst us; the kitchen window is open. The wind brings the sand in. The sheep camp house is cold from the concrete floors; the dampness is building inside. The sun is hidden behind the overcast; the rays gleam over the edges. The petrichor brings the raw smells of wet sands, sagebrush, and juniper trees. The sap from the pine tree is nearly enticing to inhale. We drove to the sheep corral, where the sheep were waiting. The smell of wet wool hit my nostrils. I think to myself, is this the smell my grandparents enjoyed? As I walk, the wet sand has a particular crunch before I see the dry sand under it. The sheep’s hooves make an imprint on the sand; they run even more than usual to clean their hooves.
Jalen Smallcanyon is a student at Diné College.