We missed the morning school bus, its yellow smear blinking through the dawn. That was the last straw. I slammed the juice on the counter and the light shattered. Why didn’t the children move faster? And toward the car? The light swayed and dripped shards that were nothing like feathers, nothing like tears. When cars from the onramp slid into us, a long slow backward curve, piles of glass rose up in a wave. So we walked the rest of the way in a deep trench, while workmen dumped sand back in behind us. At school, we played a game about cheese. We said a pledge by pictures of soldiers. My son picked a long hair off my sleeve, stretched it until it broke, then said, This isn’t very strong. In the principal’s office, a video loop played–a deer collapsed, one leg in a trap, on a manicured lawn. Then a thin man begged while someone broke his nose. At that point, we covered our eyes. Behind us on the entire wall, a maroon paper sculpture pulsed, swelling and deflating, its wheezing stoma packed with globes. It wasn’t a heart, wasn’t a lung, wasn’t anything recognizable.
Kathleen McGookey’s work has appeared in journals including Crazyhorse, Denver Quarterly, Epoch, Field, Indiana Review, Ploughshares, The Prose Poem: An International Journal, Prairie Schooner, Quarterly West, Rhino, Seneca Review, and West Branch. Her book Stay is just out from Press 53. Her book At the Zoo is forthcoming from White Pine Press in spring 2017. She has also published two chapbooks as well as a book of translations of French poet Georges Godeau’s prose poems.