Grandmother, Bones and Linen

A napkin sleeps on the ground which
was embroidered by my grandmother. Its creases
fold humbled as winter geography, leveled
in snow and stains of creamed sauce,
patterned in winded ice and borne of
bleeding fingers closing stuck glass windows.
In its shadow waits my father’s single
shoelace, not daring to shiver in its longest,
loneliest form. Untied, it hears stories more
clearly, can smell the wicker of a dark blue-
threaded border and taste the dinner in frays
cooked by three generations of wives,
each taller than the last, the first the most
beautiful. Not far across the room creep
three slow beetles, who approach my
grandmother’s napkin as anyone may approach
reading this poem. They know not of history
but do hear the pounding of my bloodstream
in the floorboards as clearly as I.