to smell the end of summer
in the sundown trees
and lunchbox rust
an uneven history
of bee-stings and scorch
branches broken to fit in the stove
dirt from other towns still on our shoes
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
tufts of feather and bone?
see me in the lath and plaster
clothesline tied to cherry trees
carpenter ants and gutter vines
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.
by Samantha Malay
published August 19, 2019 in Genre: Urban Arts, No. 8
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