Place Settings

By Samantha Malay

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

Samantha Malay‘s work recently appeared in TINGE Magazine, In Parentheses, and SHARK REEF, and will soon be published by Kind Writers and Five South. She was born in Berlin, Germany, grew up in rural northeastern Washington State, and graduated from Seattle University’s sociology program. A theatrical wardrobe technician by trade, she is also a mixed-media artist and poetry editor in residence at Flying Ketchup Press. Her published words can be found here

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