Alicia Mountain



My god, I cannot promise that I will love you.
That is what I have promised everyone else
and we both know where it’s gotten me.

I have a real Jonah and the whale thing going.
This is the come-to-Jesus of a lifetime spent
Moby Dicking around.

That is to say I sailed away and sailed away each day
I heard your voice. It is humiliating to admit
there’s nothing wrong with me.

I have been writing this poem for thirty-three years.
In love I have been as good as I could be,
made coffee in the morning and never drank it.

My god, I won’t be good to you. I won’t try
to worthy my way into earning. God damn. Your wave
crashes over me and, hard as I try, I don’t drown.



Go ahead and prune the tree.
Go prune the tree where the fallow arms grow.
Go off and bring with you your knife and hook to prune the tree.
Go prune the tree the trees the tree beside the tree the tree not that tree that one.
Make a cut to give yourself a year ahead of better fruiting.
Make the cut with sharp knife and make it confident.
Make your cuts with light in mind that the sun will reach through to do its ripening.
And make them now so that the sap has time to flow and staunch and barrier-build out-        
        keeping disease.
Squeeze the shears which each small muscle in your hand and wrist and forearm sharp.
In the springtime stop to take your water in the shade.
The shade that never stops its shifting pulling back a daylong tide.
The shade is where you take your water to your mouth and pour it in.
The unpruned shade you go to rest and sit your back down against some trunk of some tree.
Put your head back and when you do you close your eyes.
You close your eyes so that they can see something besides what you see.
You close your eyes and the fruit is coming in big more than any season before.
You close your shaded eyes to the sun and its shadows and its work and the arms of the tree     
        and its reaching its holding.
Close your eyes to see the tree and pull the sun down through the leaves.
Pull the sun down through the leaves with your knife and let it go.


when you wake up you can watch
you can touch and eat when you
wake up you can see me do some
gestures you wake up and you
wake up and you can wake up
when you can I will kiss you
or me I woke up and I said
you can sleep until you
wake up when you want
to see if we can reach
each other each one
of us awake and me
alive and you awake
and you awake to
kiss me or just
to watch to
wake to

Biographical Statement:

Alicia Mountain is the author of Four in Hand (BOA Editions 2023) and High Ground Coward (Iowa 2018). She holds a MFA from the University of Montana and a PhD from the University of Denver. Mountain is a lesbian poet based in Brooklyn where she is an Assistant Teaching Professor in the Writer’s Foundry MFA program at St. Joseph’s University.