Back to Issue Forty

Coming and Going


In my notes app, on the running list of names
for my ex’s coming baby, I add and delete the names
of people I have loved. I add and delete a name
that sounds too much like my own.
In the paper,
when women marry and change, is it the editor
who parenthetically adds the née _____? Do they
have a keyboard shortcut for it? Do I pronounce it
like what does a horse say?
I was born away from
my family. I don’t have a better way to say it than that.
I keep getting further. Farther? No, it just keeps
getting clearer— the distance— like climbing the hill
by my brother’s house when the rain has cleared
the smoke. It is still raining.
The morning sickness
kept them at the farm and so I said I would comb
through Hebrew from here and come up with
My uncle dies in Miles City before I can
see him, until I see him there, pale in a suit.
And just now
I think to put his name on the list. It could be made
to fit a new baby like a saddle, straps adjusted under
the belly, stirrups made the right length.
I don’t mean
saddled the way you might be thinking. I mean
the difference between broken and broken in. I mean
I pull up the name list every day and I try to meet
the newest distance. I try to move it closer.



Alicia Mountain is the author of High Ground Coward (Iowa, 2018), which won the Iowa Poetry Prize. A contributing editor at the Kenyon Review, her work has appeared in American Poetry Review, The Nation, Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, Poetry Northwest, Guernica, Pleiades, and The Georgia Review. Mountain holds a MFA from the University of Montana and a PhD from the University of Denver. She was the 2020-2021 Artist in Residence at the University of Central Oklahoma. She is a lesbian writer and teacher based in New York City. Her next book, Four in Hand, is forthcoming from BOA Editions in early 2023.

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