The Saturday poem: Recipe for an Alp

A new poem by Sarah Byrne

Sarah Byrne

Sarah Byrne


Snap a HB pencil in half to form a peak;

glue the exposed lead and wood back together

to make a frame. Take a copybook and tear

out the middle pages to make a shelter.

You will deal with the blue lines later. Put the pages aside.

Focus on the broken pencil balancing on your desk.

Just between where the Faber and the Castell

are embossed, there’s a restaurant. Meet me there.

It’s one of those glass rotating types that move

so slowly we think we’ve stopped. Lift the serviette

from the wine glass and place it on top of the pages

you put to the side in line five. If you’ve found

the right restaurant, they will be the exact same size.

You can do this the wrong way too. You don’t want

to make a tent instead of a mountain. To be on top

of the blue lines instead of above them.

For the apex, you will need red wine, salt

and a white wall for the backdrop. Throw the wine

over your left shoulder for good luck and pour the salt

into your right ear to return everything to white.

The serviette: you can place back in the glass now.

Sodium is your friend you might say. They speak French

in the lead of the pencil and German at base camp.

In the restaurant they speak only a coarse Italian

and when we run out of bread, they place roses

on our side plates and say è sparito. We throw them

at one another like snowballs and they feel cold and soft.

You pick up the salt cellar and shake it so it snows on my side

of the table. It must be the first time I’ve been this close

to the start of snow. And Look, you say, holding the wine glass

to your lips so that the words vibrate against

the page: I’ve made you an Alp.

Sarah Byrne worked as a criminologist. Her poems have appeared in Poetry Ireland Review, The Irish Examiner and a number of anthologies. She is editor of The Well Review.