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The Setting

Kim Young

In the backyard,
each summer,
                      the two of us

Behind the house, a ravine.
                      Behind the house, mustard and gypsum weed

weaving through the hinges
of an abandoned car’s wrecked metal frame.

The chaparral always burning.

The two of us imagining
the car’s charred frame—fire consuming

human hair, a paper bag,
an empty bottle turned black.

                      After watching Nightmare On Elm Street,

I made my sister
curl in the bed with me. Every night,
her body wrapped around me.

Like the earth—
not dangerous, but sustaining.

Do it again Daddy!
was the game. When Dad pretended to be mean.
When he pretended to be that face

you can’t believe you finally see.

The land, dry
and always burning.

The night my mom and dad
stood watching—

a blaze so loud they couldn’t hear our screams.
                      But finally, the outline of hair, the sirens blaring.

Someone was coming.

All this retracing and guessing.
My sister and I
             hopped chainlink.

Ran straight into the ravine.
Was the car a fossil? The fire, foreshadowing?

We couldn’t wait to see.

Kim Young

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