Is it Tuesday? Every Tuesday a new poem appears in the box and on the blog.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Poem 4--Kathleen McGookey

This week's poem is by Michigan poet Kathleen McGookey, from her just-released chapbook October Again (Burnside Review Press).

All day I check on the dove
                                            by Kathleen McGookey

All day I check on the dove, dead on the deck, and wish, each time I look, it might rise up, though I heard it smack against the glass, saw it drop, tremble, shake its injured wind, then lay its head down.  It was gentle, almost sweet, that last gesture.  And now, just after, I want to say, We all end that way, as if dying were as easy as falling asleep.  But that’s not right, either.  After my mother lay down, she waited four days.  I slept in her room, did what little I could—Vaseline for her lips, then a teaspoon of water.  When would the gentleness come?  Maybe the moment after.  Or the moment after that. 

McGookey's poems, prose poems and translations have appeared in over forty journals, including The Antioch Review, Boston Review, Denver Quarterly, and many others.  Her book, Whatever Shines, was published by White Pine Press and is available

Her translations of Georges Godeau's prose poems, We'll See, is available 

McGookey's work is exquisite--each image exact, overflowing with emotion that is otherwise gently contained, quiet.  As the speaker in these poems works through grief at her mother's death, the examination of the ordinary echoes the loss she feels, the ways she is trying to relearn the world that has been transformed by absence.  The understated quality of these poems gives them a haunting power--one that stays with a reader long after the book is finished.  The last poem in the chapbook ends:

"When the birds return to the lake in spring, when the single red and yellow tulip blooms again by the water's edge, we like to say this is your doing.  Of course you were not perfect.  But I was used to you."  

Those last words just rock me when I read them because they are true--in the end we love the people we love because we are used to them, they are familiar, they are ours and we are theirs.  What a simple, brave way to end a book about loss, mothering, being a daughter. 

This is a gorgeous book.  Please buy it.

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