Junior Year Abroad
I intended to live one significant moment after another, beginning with that tiny bottle of Dior cologne in the cramped bathroom of my Air France flight. This was the before. Before the man next to me sighed and scribbled apologies to his beloved all night long. Before I rode the train carrying a bouquet of violets. Before I sat in cemeteries at noon, chewing my baguette. Before the lost passport, the bad haircut, the tripped fuse that knocked out power to a whole apartment building. Before my teacher burst into our classroom clutching the novel she assigned, and pointed at me. Of course I confused key points: did a piano really mix cocktails each time it was played? Did a young woman grow a water lily in her lung? Yes, she was tragically beautiful, red-haired and pale. Yes, the owner of that wondrous piano briefly married her. Even now, I still hope to stumble across the definitive English translation. Understanding the book was like trying to touch a whitecap on an ocean wave as it washed back out to sea.
Kathleen McGookey has published four books of prose poems and three chapbooks, most recently Instructions for My Imposter (Press 53) and Nineteen Letters (BatCat Press). She has also published We’ll See, a book of translations of French poet Georges Godeau’s prose poems. Her work has appeared in Copper Nickel, Crazyhorse, December, Field, Glassworks, Miramar, Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, Quiddity, and Sweet. She has received grants from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Sustainable Arts Foundation.