Laura Tohe

I Have Slept In the Arms of Your Mountains



i was fuckin’ fearless in europe

         or just naive

when I landed on the shore

like an anxious red columbus


one night i took shelter in the arms of your mountains

the alps appeared in my childhood books--

         clocks, knives, chocolate

i read stories of how they protected your world

           from the war outside

there are many ways to desire mountains

and why they would be missed


i was a dark traveler in copenhagen and bern then


in your country we came across a celebration

where we entered a parade on a whim

nobody stared

         the villagers treated us right as new snow

you don’t get that in america


in bern you were the boy crossing the street

as i searched for the way out

       we passed in the aisle of the market

                   you, with your chocolate sweet

                   me,  with cigarettes and chardonnay


i swear i’ve seen you before


in bern I danced with a man

who traveled the world

              playing soccer


at dawn he drove me to a lake

                    “in Suisse, ‘lac,’” he said

we stepped lightly in the rain

and felt lac de morat rocking the houses

i still remember how he looked up phrases for me in English




you were learning the cello then

     schubert,    bach,    mozart  

                lived with you

             their notes fragrant as yellow flowers

                  that drift in the pasture of your neighbor’s farm


they are absorbed by the walls in every room of your house

stored in your

         artist hands shaped by music


you said mine were expressive          i noticed you noticing them


did you know i dreamt you into my life?

        you rose and dissolved

              thin as the pollen wings of butterflies           

oh, it was too early to leave that luxurious cocoon


i believe in





            locust smoothing the fifth world,

            you and i exchanging our bodies


these days i walk the wire without a net 

         shave my legs with a rusty blade

               sleep with my doors unlocked

                             walk alone in the ‘hood

                                     inhale second hand smoke

                                      and ignore fat content warnings

all safe things to do


i should have heeded

         Yii’ yá’!!               Danger!!                   Peligro!!                      Verboten!!


red light,

proceed with caution,

objects closer than they appear,

no stopping more than 15 minutes,

turn back, turn back

                                    i ignore all warnings

                                    so i stay up late condemned to write and write about you








*You’re the right kind of sinner, to release my inner fantasies . . .

You’re a Heartbreaker,

Dream maker, Love taker

Don’t you mess around with me!


                                                     repeat . . . .

                                                     repeat . . . .


that’s what she said!!!!


i’ll say anything to get past this glorious lunatic space


i’m yellow woman to your norse gods


the “new world” meets the “old”


let’s do it again


let’s see how it comes out this time





you made the cello sing magnificently

you were “charming” and “luxurious”

                  my beautiful,


do you mind if i call you that?


sweet mountains why are you so distant?

why make me wait?

why exile me to this gulag?






*Heartbreaker lyrics by Pat Benatar