'Cathay Inn'
photo by Samantha Malay, on the way to Colville, Washington, 1990

Inland
by Samantha Malay
published April 4, 2019 in Projector Magazine
http://www.projectormagazine.co.uk

 
in the seams of sleep
the curtains were stained where they stuck to the glass
answers were eavesdropped
and icicles dripped from the roof of the porch
while our coats hung on nails and bread baked inside
near a hinge in the floor where we left all our questions
like cups upside down to guard against bugs
and handwritten notes under root cellar jars
between bent hasps and splintered slats
pillowcase creases and windowsill light
I am pulling on threads and begging the ash

'House #7'
photo by Samantha Malay, Las Vegas, Nevada, 1990

Hollow
by Samantha Malay
published in Quiddity: International Literary Journal and Public Radio Program
http://quidditylit.org/issue-11-2/smalay/

 
in a car the color of an ocean map
on a circular road that led south to north
we stopped at a house near a dead-end street
where we sat on the floor
in sun-bleached clothes

we can’t get our bearings
with our backs to the mountain
and the horizon holds only what we don’t want here

roll up your sleeping bag
tie your shoes in the dark
we’ll cup water in gas stations
between night and day

'Fish Bowl #1'
photo by Samantha Malay, Seattle, Washington, 1991

Adrift
by Samantha Malay
published in Quiddity: International Literary Journal & Public Radio Program
http://quidditylit.org/issue-11-2/smalay/

I drink coffee from a styrofoam cup
lift our bags into the trunk
pull a map from the glovebox.
It’s so early most of the truckers haven’t left yet.

I can see you in the motel office
and I can see the corner of an orange bedspread
on the floor of one room because the door is standing open
letting bright hazy light in.

A housekeeping cart is parked outside
and what was ours will soon belong to someone else.

'Parking Lot #5'
photo by Samantha Malay, Seattle, Washington, 1999

Harvest
by Samantha Malay
published in Sheila-Na-Gig, volume 3.2, Winter 2018
https://sheilanagigblog.com/

 
back out of the driveway
windows rolled down
a map of each room in your mind
we are equal parts empty and full
together and alone
the space between the beads and the string

open the envelope
it holds more than words
seeds unsuited to our season of drought
promises of peaches and plums
from branches grafted to a single trunk

keep your horse from the quarry ridge
eat peas from dried vines
crouch in the shallows with creekwater mint
you are rootless and lucky for now

'Aurora Night #1'
photo by Samantha Malay, Seattle, Washington, 1991

Field Study
by Samantha Malay
published in Sheila-Na-Gig, volume 3.2, Winter 2018
https://sheilanagigblog.com/


Could you see the shape of here from there
as you rode your bike along the shore
the summer you turned twelve?

feasts of gleaned fruit
a place to sleep between the trees
and water in the ditch

Did you trade mystery for certainty
one night around the dinner table
or some dawn
in the fishtank glow
of a livingroom on Orchard Street?

fold the baby’s blanket
there are thistles in the grass
and upturned nails

Did birds fly near
when you circled home
and stood in the unlit kitchen?

with a lack of ritual
we held your hands
and knew no words to harbor you

'Swap Shop #1'
photo by Samantha Malay, Seattle, Washington, 1999

Tacoma Snapshot
by Samantha Malay
semi-finalist in Alexandria Quarterly’s 2018 End of Summer Poem Contest
http://www.alexandriaquarterlymag.com/samantha-malay/

 
It was probably an ordinary day for us
walking through empty parking lots
ringed with horsetail plants and blackberry thorns
to my grandparents’ house
as late afternoon slipped into evening
the lawn sprinkler-wet
and the cement birdbath dark
against the gold rectangle of the kitchen window

but I see whole summers inside those hours
feet dandelion-sticky on warm linoleum
a spoon from each stripe of Neapolitan ice cream
while water fills the bathtub
unread letters on the diningroom table
the hinge of a screen door
alley dust