'Villia del Mar Motel'
photo by Samantha Malay, Seattle, Washington, 1990

The Geography of Doubt
by Samantha Malay
published March 2020 in Wild Roof Journal, Issue 1


Tamaracks, pine trees, aspen and wild roses grew at the edge of the field
where chamomile, sheep sorrel, alfalfa and thistles tangled with grass.

We felt the heat of the day in the dust between our toes
as the late-summer smell of dusk enveloped us.

Stars filled the whole sky as we lay on our backs, a blanket on the ground.
Far away, we heard the rustling and thumping of a startled grouse.

We lived in dry mountain woods and despite our vegetable garden and rabbit hutch and root cellar, we were no match for the gophers and the coyotes and the thunderstorms.

We felt the fragile boundary between hope and haste,
between watching for signs and quiet paranoia,
between saving seeds and leaving the homestead to the dead of winter.
Between wanting to know and listening to silence.

There were lean years even when we cut enough firewood
and brought the hay in before the rain.

For a long time we believed that our gamble would bind us together.

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