The Last Exotic Petting Zoo

by Jessica Tyner

In the dripping cold of an Oregon January,

miasma of wet dog clung to us like

a discarded lover. You, sick

with a cough and a heavy head tucked

in the pages of a book. I drove

like hell down the coastal

back roads.
No one holds tigers

and lions in the winter

but us.

The wanton mud swallowed our shoes,

sucked our feet in searching gulps

while the animals watched.

You held her,

Bristled paws like a kiwano,

as I cradled the bottle of milk

into her frantic mouth knowing you’ll never

think me as magnificent as you

do right now.

I gifted you a tiger cub, her claws etching

delicate scars into your forearms,

while the rain scoured us to the bone.

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Filed under Issue 7, Poetry

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