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Kathleen McGookey

Cloud Report, 10/5/22, Evening

How can the sky hold so many different kinds? A single bright line, curvy and segmented like the spine of a fish. Another white line like steam billowing from a train engine. Soft navy splotches spread out against softer, lighter blue. A swooped-up gray curve like the head of a bird. The trees are still and the sky seems still but everything changes faster than I can write. Clouds, which minutes ago held streaks of creamy rose, have disappeared. Nothing has moved except the light, which is leaving.

Cloud Report 5/9/22

Just now, a little after noon, a band of clouds I can nearly see through softens the horizon. You might say those low clouds hover like mist. Or the sheerest sheer curtain pushed around by the breath of childhood. The remaining sky’s too bright to call overcast. It could have gone so many ways—television loud in the background, your voice slurred—what good’s rehashing last night’s call? In a few hours, this sky might be unrecognizable. If you glimpsed it now, as you slide on sunglasses and reach for your phone, you might mistake it for cloudless and serene.

Cloud Report 2/26/23

That can’t be a canoe stuck out there in the snow-covered field, a half mile from the dirt road. That can’t be a person sitting motionless inside it, silhouetted against the melting snow.The sky is as white as the field. A flock of wild turkeys drifts toward the canoe and then surrounds it like a river rushes around a log, leaf-shaped footprints swirling in its wake.

Cloud Report 9/14/22

An airplane thrums above the clouds. A hawk flies toward the horizon, where just a little light has gathered, under overcast sky. Already the elms are skeletal and the oaks have burst into dull flames. Last year, around this time, you sketched the silhouette of a deer as the falling sun left our field half gold, half shadow.


Kathleen McGookey has published four books and three chapbooks of prose poems, most recently Instructions for My Imposter (Press 53) and Nineteen Letters (BatCat Press). Her work has appeared in journals including Copper Nickel, December, Epoch, Field, Prairie Schooner and The Southern Review. Online, her work has been featured on American Life in Poetry, Poetry Daily, and Verse Daily.


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