Jill McDonough


– for Josey 

Wooden bars of our rope hammock, iridescent bark of the double
blossoming cherry. Oak shelves you built from tongue-in-groove wood

flooring, salvaged from Harvard. Our own hardwood floors, which you sanded
down with a rented belt sander in forty-eight hours, work you would

not let me do, did alone, in a nuisance mask and safety glasses. July, the rooms stuffy
as attics. We slept in a tent in the yard while the poly gassed off, then saw new wood

shine in sunlight, stretch out before us in semi-gloss perfection. Wooden bowls,
wooden spoons, wood butcher block you cut to fit our bar. Cornflower-blue wood

jelly cabinet I built and ditched when I saw what you could do. When I asked
if you would marry me, you made me wait, then finally said you would.

Driftwood curtain rods, a cold-frame, oak cabinets, dipped doors, a life
I couldn’t have imagined; morning after morning, I get to wake up with you. Wood

Waste of Boston: who knew I’d get to see those tractors, front end loaders swarming
over the pile of fiberglass, drywall, discarded cupboards, chewed up into wood

splinters, wood dust rising like smoke: all this rising like smoke from the moment
I saw you, moment I touched you, the moment you said you would.

Seven years, five anniversaries: paper to cotton
to leather to fruit-and-flowers, now to wood:

the hammock, the cherry, the shelves, cool glade we built in the middle of the city,
dogwood, forsythia, mountain laurel we believe—Believe in Boston—are in bloom, would

rise and blossom even in our absence. Josephine Alice Packard, would you be my girl?
I, Jill McDonough, still declare, keep declaring I’ll be yours forever if you would.

JILL MCDONOUGH is the winner of two Pushcart prizes. Her books of poems include Habeas Corpus (Salt, 2008), Oh, James! (Seven Kitchens, 2012), and Where You Live (Salt, 2012). The recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Fine Arts Work Center, the New York Public Library, the Library of Congress, and Stanford’s Stegner program, she taught incarcerated college students through Boston University’s Prison Education Program for thirteen years. Her work appears in Slate, The Nation, The Threepenny Review, and Best American Poetry. She teaches poetry at UMass-Boston and directs 24PearlStreet, the online writing program at the Fine Arts Work Center.

Read more by Jill McDonough:

Poem in Threepenny Review
Another poem in Threepenny Review
Poem in The Harvard Review
Author website