“At the Playground” by Kathleen McGookey

Kathleen McGookey


A boy tried to outrun a witch on his bicycle, but the witch snagged his shadow with her teeth and reeled him in. I’m only ten, the boy said. And you will be delicious, the witch replied. She stroked his hand with both thumbs. She kissed his palm, then broke off his pinky and swallowed. Delicious, she repeated, and gingerbread crumbs stuck to the gummy corners of her mouth. The boy could not believe his body would act like that. He felt like a birthday cake missing its candles. So he offered her a flat, dead snake from his pocket. But I’ve left my heart at home. And he could see it, safe in a glass jar, pulsing, next to his fish tank. The witch was crestfallen and tried not to show it. A science project? she said, and opened her black umbrella. The next gust blew her high into the air. Her boots rattled against each other as she grew smaller and smaller. She was sorry to lose him. At least he had not spoiled her appetite.

from Rattle #48, Summer 2015


Kathleen McGookey: “I write poems because it is a way to pay close attention. I write prose poems because I love using the sentence as a unit of rhythm. I also like how unassuming the prose poem is, how at first glance that block of text could be almost anything.”

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