Benjamin Malay

there wasn’t much left in the shack

wood-handled tools stained with clay

from the well my parents had dug themselves

gray and white rabbit skins

stretched over alder branches

a quiver of arrows

sections of an army tent

a treadle sewing machine

in a cobwebbed corner

its drawers of curved needles

spools of thread

a shadow

of my father’s calloused fingers

red with blood

as he sutured the leg

of a wounded deer

August heat trapped in the eaves

dead bees on a window sill

a row of mason jars

a homesteader’s yield

of reclaimed nails bolts and screws

a tackle box on a wooden table

steel partitions suffused

with chainsaw oil and rust

hopeful summers spent

with dusty feet

fish hooks and

wild spearmint

near the creekbend

where we filled our jugs

and our days

before the miners’ poison

came down from Stag Mountain

a creased township map

coordinates written in pencil

reveal an outline of restlessness

and unfamiliar territory

north of Quinns Meadow Road

golden tamarack

and grease-smudged pages

of an auto repair manual

announced our departure

reluctant to leave

unable to stay

we breathed warmth into cold fingers

in the chilly gray light

the song of the olive-backed thrush

fills the spaces we left behind

silence permeates like wood smoke


Benjamin Malay works in a variety of mediums to create deeply personal images of people and places, embracing imperfect memory and fleeting life. Influenced by patterns of the natural world, he is most inspired by the spontaneous use of available materials. He is also the sole proprietor of a fine art framing business in Seattle, Washington.