'Swap Shop #2'
photo by Samantha Malay, Seattle, Washington, 1999

Home
by Samantha Malay
published in Rougarou Journal of Arts and Literature, Winter 2020
http://rougarou.org/?s=samantha+malay

 
when we no longer live in our bodies
do we inhabit the spaces between
voices cupped in bedspread folds
hands around a match
winter kitchen cookbook stains
unmarked keys
missing teeth
tufts of feather and bone?

see me in the lath and plaster
clothesline tied to cherry trees
empty spools
diaper pins
carpenter ants and gutter vines

'Charolais Motel'
photo by Samantha Malay, near Nampa, Idaho, 1997

Signal
by Samantha Malay
published March 2020 in Wild Roof Journal, Issue 1
https://wildroofjournal.com/issue-1/gallery-1/#SamanthaMalay
 
in winter we dreamed of birds
shoulder blades and arms and wrists
hinged as if for flight
a kinship record held in what we left behind

torn pages and ink blossoms
strands of hair in swingset chains
sand dollars in coffee cans

wait with me on the steps to the porch
until we’re signaled to migrate
by an unpracticed language
and an angle of light

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

Property
by Samantha Malay
published March 2020 in Wild Roof Journal, Issue 1
https://wildroofjournal.com/issue-1/gallery-1/#SamanthaMalay
 
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.

'Puget Sound Cafe'
photo by Samantha Malay, Seattle, Washington, 1989

Drought
by Samantha Malay
published March 2020 in Wild Roof Journal, Issue 1
https://wildroofjournal.com/issue-1/gallery-1/#SamanthaMalay
 
ask the dowse for an underground creek
but seek no promise of a constant source

proof we were here
is buried like seeds
wrist-spindled kite string
and remnants of letters on typewriter ribbon
tangle in tree roots now

with a wish for unbroken limbs
we cover the well
and squander no words on what can’t be seen

'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
https://wildroofjournal.com/issue-1/gallery-1/#SamanthaMalay
 
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.

'Parking Lot #2'
photo by Samantha Malay, Las Vegas, Nevada, 1990

South
by Samantha Malay
published August 19, 2019 in Genre: Urban Arts, No. 8

South

inside my suitcase
in the trunk of the rental car
clothes wrinkle around motel soaps and rolls of film
the horizon floats above the dashboard

another summer
swimsuit straps tied at my neck
I leaned out the window
yellow lines slid under shadows of tires

lock the screen door
when the yard gets dark
I’ll call from a pay phone
when I’m close to the border

'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