photo by Samantha Malay, Oaxaca, Mexico, 2018

Place Settings
by Samantha Malay
published in Goat’s Milk Magazine, issue 12


in the still air
of my mother-in-law’s livingroom      
I kneel on the rug          
to nest dishes in boxes           

and I see her
hair sleek as bird-wings
in a sleeveless geometric print dress
hosting parties with these archaic vessels
in officers’ quarters when she lived overseas
lifting a gravy boat amid tablecloth clatter
the rosebud-shaped handle on a sugarbowl lid

as guests carry drinks to smoke on the deck
ashtrays like seashells
in the dim light of storm clouds
where seedpods crackle
and pine branches arch
over an ornamental riverbed of stones

at her kitchen table
now crowded with ghosts
she translates a recipe for cucumber salad

and unfolding lawnchairs
in patio shade
we talk about the cherries
we can see from down here

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