Excerpt from the American Heritage Thesaurus of Smells

by Kathleen Balma

wet pavement – synonyms: a shuffled stack of singles, a pear, the tornado-safe corner of a basement. antonyms: rubber signature stamps, distilled regret, thin burnt white buttered toast.

copper – synonyms: a fat tampon, strep throat. antonyms: unsmearable lipstick, ferrets.

mildew – synonyms: carbonated water, the day before frost, sidewalk hopscotch chalk, that luxurious raincoat called home. antonyms: eucalyptus, tiger balm, a mint plant doused in cat piss, a row of ashtrays by the sink.

insect repellant – synonyms: pine, latex, chlorine, greeting card sections of grocery stores. antonym: a curd of hope.

salt – synonyms: dead fresh water fish on a sleek river bank, milk that aspires to be cheese, the cusp between the body and arm commonly known as pit. antonyms: a naked margarita, a first or last date, a lint-covered lidless cherry chap stick.

Kathleen Balma is a Fulbright Fellow and graduate of Indiana University’s MFA program. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in various publications, including Crab Orchard Review, Mid-American Review, storySouth, Puerto del Sol, Suss, and The 2River View. She currently resides in Connecticut.