The Scent of Dew
By Jaakko Markus Seppälä
The scent of morning dew floats upon the meadow as the sun casts its first rays. This is your smell. Straws of golden hay sweep my boots with their humid touch. I stay my steps.
A quiet wind hums on the field. Near the runway stands a faded red hut, leaning a little, its windows bathing in the yellows and oranges of the sunrise. They borrow golden from the fields, from which fluff is rising, playing drowsily in the wind.
That was where we used to play when we were little. I ruffled your hair, you swiped me with an ear of rye.
The smell of old coffee and leather chairs lingers in the hut, with a burnt whiff of electricity. What’s this one for? Could I talk all the way to the Atlantic with this? you would ask, and I would show you how to use the equipment from radios to route plotters. There you are, sitting. Wearing your white dress, the one that has small lilies.
I’m a little cold.
I take my jacket off and put it on you. You look so slender sitting there, swaying your feet, with the large leather jacket on your shoulders. I pet your hair as you rest your head on me.
On the wall hangs a yellowing photo. I stand there with Dad in front of the old Cessna; he smiles, with an arm on my shoulder. I am dressed up as a pilot as well as a ten-year old can. Me, Dad and Cessna. That plane was sold years ago.
I roll a cigarette and step outside. The sun-warmed morning tastes in the smoke. I offer you some and you take the cigarette, trying to look experienced — though you still only take mouth puffs. Close, but no cigar, I say. You reply by blowing smoke in my face and laughing. You laugh like no one else.
Mutt is scuffling my way. He has gotten scent of the smoke. He grunts, I scratch his neck and we walk to the hangar. He has grown old.
Fury. My aeroplane. It waits, its wings shining the red of your hair and the green of your eyes, sun-rays glimmering off the propeller. How the wind would blow your hair if you were aboard! I put on my helmet and goggles. Mutt keeps running around me, but today I am not taking him aboard. I want to fly with you.
Lastly I wear the silken scarf you gave me, to keep me warm in the bleakest of storms. Its white is still untarnished.
I push the cold cartridge into the breech, pump gas and hit ignition. The engine thunders to life. Air shimmers above the asphalt as Mutt keeps barking after me. As I pull the lever, the rumble of the engine grows into an intoxicating roar. You would learn to love that sound, that feeling when the wheels abandon the safe touch of the ground. To leave everything below, to feel free, free. How you would marvel at all this. How I marvel at all this. No matter whether I have two, ten or ten thousand flights under my belt: It is here that I come to life.
Can you see the tiny hut, the patch of field, the shrunken runway? I open the valve and start climbing into a loop. The crush of gravity ponders at the apex and vanishes as I dive. I am floating.
Can you hear the faithful voice of the engine? Can you hear the chatter of the propeller? Can you smell the scent of the morning dew that has escaped the heat of the day into the heights? It will stay here until the evening, until it wafts slowly to the surface in the cover of the night. Sometimes, the scent of dew hovers on the surface the whole day, fragile and fleeting. You have to tread carefully and speak in whispers to avoid scaring it and making it disappear. It is like you are. You come to me only in my dreams and disappear when the morning pulls me back to the world with a gentle determination. Your voice echoes in the drone of the engine. Your face is drawn on each cloud.
My figure is ready and I steer Fury back home. The ground embraces its fugitives gently like a father his prodigal, guiding us to the hangar. The engine sound dies away with a small, abating hiss. Only the hum of the wind remains.
Mutt ambles from a shady corner of the hangar. We sit on the hut’s stairs and gaze at the skies. Mutt cocks his head and grunts. He understands. For a long time we sit silently, watching a sole name, carved in the sky.