'Hillside Motel'
photo by Samantha Malay, Seattle, Washington, 1990

by Samantha Malay
published March 2020 in Wild Roof Journal, Issue 1

One spring we slept in a canvas tent
near an abandoned homestead
at the edge of a field.

My parents and their friend Gunner
salvaged tongue-and-groove boards for a summer shack
peeled logs for our cabin
and tried to keep the yellowjackets off their sweat.

After the sun went down
and the trees blended with the night
they drank Lucky beer in short brown bottles
and laughed while they solved the puzzles
inside the caps.

The top bunk bed was mine
and when I couldn’t sleep
I watched the patterns on the ceiling
made by the kerosene lamp below.

When Gunner left the next summer
his car bent the weeds that grew down the middle of the road
that led away from our property.

We dug holes for bottles around the garden
to scare the gophers
with the sound of the wind inside the glass.

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