Kathleen McGookey ~ Three Short Pieces

My Anger Tours the State Capitol

My Anger touch­es every door­knob embossed with the State seal and will not shake hands with anyone

When invit­ed, My Anger does not lie on the glass floor to look at gold-leaf stars on the domed ceil­ing, four sto­ries up. The docent was late, the wood bench was hard. I am ready to give her a talk­ing to. My Anger is not inter­est­ed in the num­ber of crys­tals on each chan­de­lier or the time it takes to clean them. Too bad the House and Senate are emp­ty today, the Appropriations Committee is not hear­ing comments—My Anger has a few things to say. For now, My Anger is hun­gry and hunger sat­is­fies her. She counts the stairs back down to the glass floor, back past the unfin­ished por­trait, back out­side. If the sun would stop shin­ing on her face, My Anger could pre­tend to sleep on the long bus ride home.

In the Basement

When My Anger can’t sleep, she makes sure I’m awake, too. She perch­es on my bed with clip­board and pen, and asks me to name the top five injus­tices against her this year.  Her sleek braid is not one bit mussed. I tell her I’m sleep­ing down­stairs. She fol­lows and asks, What do you like about night? Before I can answer, she lists moths, satel­lites, and her pearly toe­nails reflect­ing the nightlight’s green­ish glow. Now her stom­ach hurts. She stays in the bath­room a long time, moan­ing and retch­ing and call­ing for me. I watch the blink­ing red lights that bloom on radio tow­ers just beyond my house. Against my bet­ter judge­ment, I join her and stroke her hair. I give her a Dixie cup of water to rinse her mouth.

Self Help

Yesterday I locked My Anger out of the house. I said Unless you’re bleed­ing, you can’t come back in. For a while she rat­tled the win­dows and doors, but the locks held. Stillness enveloped the house like snow. Dust motes lin­gered in shafts of sun­light that glazed my clut­tered rooms. I took a bath. I baked a pie. Out in the yard, My Anger jug­gled bones. She filled three wheel­bar­rows with dug-up rocks, took an axe to the birch, and stacked the wood for win­ter. Already she’d shrunk to half her usu­al size. Black wal­nuts thumped to the ground, encased in hard green shells. She stained her hands and clothes when she gath­ered them. Even though she had so much more to do, she crouched in the rub­ble and cried.


Kathleen McGookey’s work has appeared in jour­nals includ­ing The Antioch Review, Boston Review, Crazyhorse, Denver Quarterly, Epoch, Field, Indiana Review, The Laurel Review, Ploughshares, The Prose Poem:  An International Journal, Prairie Schooner, Quarterly West, Seneca Review, West Branch, and Willow Springs.  She is the author of Whatever Shines, October Again, and Mended, and the trans­la­tor of We’ll See, by French prose poet Georges Godeau.  Her book Stay is forth­com­ing from Press 53 in fall 2015; her book At the Zoo is forth­com­ing from White Pine Press in spring 2017.  She has received grants from the Irving S. Gilmore Foundation, the Arts Fund of Kalamazoo County, and the Sustainable Arts Foundation.  She has taught at Hope College, Interlochen Arts Academy, and Western Michigan University.