Karyna McGlynn

notes on Cherry Liqueur From Zadar

It's hard to get back into the original headspace of this poem because it's been about four years since I first wrote it, and it's undergone many incarnations since then. It's one of those poems that I kept dismissing as "no good" and then later falling in love with again and changing slightly.

Before I went to college I lived with a woman for a time, and we were throwing a party for my birthday one year. It was a 1920s theme party and we wanted to make it as authentic as possible so we dug up all these 1920s cocktail and punch recipes. The punch recipe we chose called for "cherry liqueur," and, in retrospect, I suppose that simply meant maraschino juice or grenadine, but we didn't know that, so we scoured every liquor store in town until we found this weird dusty bottle which said "cherry liqueur from Zadar" on the label. It looked like it had been on the shelf for a million years, but we bought it and used it in the punch, and boy was it strong—and strange! I've never tasted anything like it. We found out that Zadar was in Croatia, which fascinated us, so we made plans to visit there, but they fell through like most of our plans back then. That cherry liqueur has always felt emblematic of that time in my life with Amie. I often see us sitting at our 1950s Formica table, sipping that stuff while playing endless games of chess and eating spaghetti because it was cheap—so earnest and innocent, not knowing what our futures would hold.


Karyna McGlynn’s poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Gulf Coast, Another Chicago Magazine, Octopus, Denver Quarterly, Spinning Jenny, Ninth Letter, Willow Springs and Fence Magazine. A three-time Pushcart nominee, Karyna is the recipient of the Hopwood Award for poetry at the University of Michigan where she is currently teaching and completing her MFA. She is an editor for the online journal Stirring. Her website is www.karynamcglynn.com.