I Could Promise to Try

The dead always watched from their front row seats, lemon slices drifting in their cool drinks. They’d set down their binoculars and wipe their foreheads, pink air pressing around them like cotton candy. One would say this weather smells like blood and the rest nodded, crossed their legs, and picked up their paper fans. Not one of those dead was a stranger to me. Some days I felt them in the baby’s room among wallpaper clouds, watching him sleep. Some days I felt only their eyes as I buckled that squirming thing into his carseat: if I could just drive somewhere, I might accomplish something. With them watching me when the baby wailed, inconsolable, I could set him back in his crib and walk away.


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.