Once I offered a poem that contained the phrase “mist shimmers” to a table full of people. One man said, Mist can’t shimmer. Fog shimmers. Mist drifts. His name was Paul. I said nothing but thought many things. Paul had dark bangs cut straight across his forehead, clean fingernails, and a cardigan that smelled like charcoal briquets. He sliced an apple right on top of the growing sheaf of poems, and he didn’t share. He counted the rings of the apple’s life. Paul said crows didn’t live in Antarctica, because they couldn’t cross the ocean. He seemed to know a lot about weather and birds, but little about wishbones and the kind of moss that sprouts tendrils wearing tiny triangular hats. The ringing in my ears shifted from side to side, then grew louder and faded, like some kid was playing with the controls offstage. I don’t remember what Paul’s poem was about.
Kathleen McGookey’s most recent books are Instructions for My Imposter (Press 53) and Nineteen Letters (BatCat Press). Her work has recently appeared in Copper Nickel, Crazyhorse, December, Field, Glassworks, Miramar, Quiddity, and Sweet.