I’ve begun to smell
like my grandmother.
Not the one who wore lilacs
pinned to her pink boucle on Easter.
No, the other one with large appetites—
Jim Beam, “shut-up and deal me
some decent cards, goddammit,”
tapping ash from a Salem Menthol.
You can see the bacon grease
running down her living room wall
behind my grandfather chugging
oxygen in his scabby recliner.
Dim afternoons on a ruby bar stool,
L&M Steakhouse, where we all
visited my grandparents when I was a kid—
my uncles, Dad, Aunt Phyllis.
I think I would enjoy this crowd—
cackling laughter, large-nosed barbs—
were I to spend time with them now
that I’ve begun to smell like a woman
who can hold her own.
© Karen Hildebrand
First published in Blue Mesa Review.