Before she died, my grandmother
told us her tablecloths were filthy
with the howls of injured dogs. The only thing
for it was bleach, but even that can’t lift
the noise from this napkin, the wads of silly
putty, pink glitter, sand. The way a life

can smell like smoke from other
people’s fires, piñon burning sweet
through the window frames into towels,
dust motes. My clothes are speaking
in its voice again. A bunny pancake.
A blueberry smile. Outside, clouds

fold down their tissue: To Mom
on her special day. 
I untie the smoke.
The napkins cough, peel membrane
from the sections of my lungs. The arils
shine their hidden ratio. I fill them
with air. They burst in my mouth.



Betsy Mitchell Martinez