Leslie McGrath


“If it were possible to see the universe as a whole, from afar,
it would appear pale green, between aquamarine and turquoise”

                                          —The New York Times January 11, 2002



Science has discovered that the sound the universe makes is a B flat
Far below the range of human hearing. And the scent?
Surely it’s not a single smell. No rose or ocean or homemade bread
Captures it completely. Neither could it be the sum of every scent—
The olfactory version of black. Maybe some mixture, like cedar and cider,
Rust and rocket fuel. Or something like the metallic smell the air gives off
As it begins to snow. Or the scent of parched dirt easing in the rain.
Something between dung chips burning in the desert and driftwood burning
At the tide line. Something like the dry scent of silica. Or mossy, fungal.
Maybe the smell of mushrooms cooking, or onions. The deep richness
Of a long-simmered broth. Or breath. A scent between the first milky breath
And the last exhausted exhalation. Yes, like breath.



"Scent" first appeared in Nimrod International Journal of Prose and Poetry, fall 2004, vol. 48, no. 1.