by Alyssandra Tobin


My father braided dried grass into 

a word and left it on the back porch.


Alpenglow, it said. 

That light on the tips of the mountains when 

the sun starts going down. He said


I saw it every night we were climbing.

Summer is when it is strongest


The sun bleeds foxfire from the leaves 

in heatless drops of smoke. On Denali 

I got caught in it, and now I carry it


When he writes it in charcoal 

I smell the sky like a lake on fire in 

the middle of dark green New Jersey, 


the way it tastes like a marshmallow 

Swelling to burst inside a bonfire, toasted

brown edges and liquid sugar guts. 


When he carves it into the soft wood of the 

picnic table I see the growing blanket of deep red 

dividing dark from light up the sides of the Green Mountains, 


the slash and the burn. The way light flares 

and flickers out, every treetop wearing 

the color that kills them – the warm orange 


of neon highway signs that count the

number of people who’ve died that year,


driving too fast after the mountains shed their red robes, 

after the color that made me whisper his word went quiet.

When the light touches me it is like a finger

running down my spine – dark, it glows.