Jill McDonough

In Issue 5 on January 10, 2011 at 3:50 pm

Toward a Lawn

patch of dirty straw. Then,
when we forget to notice, when
scrutinies lapse, green’s sprung. Oak, maple

nothing on this, the principle beauty
of loam. Slender. Brave
and countless. They thicken, become sturdy

multitudes. Rolling cool beneath a deck,
a hammock,
to chain link fence.

So we learn the earth unfolds for us, can
shimmer with health under our care. Afternoons left
alone with your shoulders, tan
neck in sunlight, a shovel’s heft.

Shovel. Rake. Roller. Plumes
of water: your thumb on a hose. Bats
rise, fall nightly in soft formations, consume
what could ever irk us. New worlds, habitats

form beneath the kiddie pool
forgotten in the shade. It cools, it will cool
you in its red and yellow shallows,
inflated fat and shiny as my breath allows.


Jill McDonough has taught incarcerated college students through Boston University’s Prison Education Program since 1999. Her poems appear in The Threepenny Review, Poetry, The New Republic, and Slate, and her awards include a Pushcart Prize and fellowships from the NEA, the Fine Arts Work Center, Stanford’s Stegner Program, and the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers. Her first book of poems, Habeas Corpus, was published in 2008. She is a 2010 Witter Bynner Fellow at the Library of Congress.

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