I live in a quiet garage beside a line of eucalyptus trees

 

At night, Tiger pads into the room while I’m asleep
Tiger in the corner of my dreams
Tiger I can’t get past I have to keep practicing

 

Tiger like a teenager
who will one day drop her soft baby

 

You are my new boyfriend. You give me that John Lennon feeling
We hike to the overlook                 the ticks burrowing into me
the frontier of our life
under the turkey vultures circling

 

***

 

I am twenty years old    I run out of gas on the freeway
I won’t go home but I do quit drinking.
I drive a VW van that can accommodate sleeping

 

Slowly slowly     & you know Tiger makes me keep practicing

 

I think your shame is rather appealing
a heavy door like a safe in a little room where I work retail closing & opening

 

We’re still in bed & I know you drive to Commerce to go gambling
I’m not afraid when you leave   in fact when you stay
I feel like I’m suffocating

 

Tiger out of the corner of my eye but I keep walking

 

***

 

Tiger is a test that comes at first when I’m dreaming
I am twenty & getting clean & the dream of Tiger is something invisible
that the night                                        is now requiring

 

When I was twelve she wore half tops & her brother listened to The Smithereens
now her baby is velcroed into a wheelchair and she erupts into joy when he relearns smiling

We climb a peak in Topanga State Park
the background conversation                      hikers from Germany
Overhead the crows       but inside a steep hill
into the ways love keeps us reeling

 

***

 

The men teach me that horses can smell fear
& so when Tiger stalks me I think the lesson is to be steely
I finally learn to pass Tiger without the animal pouncing

 

But shame is a crater I move toward
after the movie leaves me weeping
I kick in the kitchen cabinets      & finally let you hold me

 

***

 

One day our children will make us a family
& the baby will make dancing feet before he starts ramming
& nothing             nothing

 

not even Tiger out of the corner of my eye
prepares me for how love

requires all of this fragility

 

Cover Art by Kelsey Baker

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Kim Young
Kim Young

Kim Young is the author of Night Radio, winner of the 2011 Agha Shahid Ali Poetry Prize (The University of Utah Press), finalist for the 2014 Kate Tufts Discovery Award, and the chapbooks Tigers (Business Bear Press, 2017) and Divided Highway (Dancing Girl Press, 2008). She is the founding editor of Chaparral, an online journal featuring poetry from Southern California, and her poems and essays have appeared in The Cincinnati Review, Los Angeles Review of Books, TriQuarterly, POOL and elsewhere. She teaches at California State University Northridge and lives in LA with her family.

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