What You Worry About by Jill McDonough


I worry about my teeth, and bleeding
on your white sheets.  You worry
about ugly blancmange, what
we’re going to eat. I worry
about the position of the dog’s
stuffed animals. I like the arm
of the monkey to be over
the octopus to show that they
are comrades.
  I look at you like
you’re crazy, and I’m a patient
kind of doctor.  Kind. 
You sigh and say,  I know. 
I worry about money, usually.  Where
the next money comes from and
how soon. When I have some
money I am cracked open, calm,
breathe deep.  Worry-free.  Ready
for anything.  You worry
about constructing a lamb cake, whether
it can stand upright or have to be
a bas relief.  If cornus mas would ever
bloom in a zone 5.  I worry about walking
between parked cars.
you’re sleeping?  While you’re falling
asleep?  Yes.  Getting my legs
cut off.
  I worry about that when I’m
walking between them, but not
when I’m safe in my bed.  I praise
you for always walking over subway
grates, when I skirt them, walk around.
That’s not my issue, you say, while
I skirt them, walk around.



Three-time Pushcart prize winner Jill McDonough is the recipient of NEA, Cullman Center, and Stegner fellowships. Her books include Habeas Corpus (Salt, 2008), and Where You Live (Salt, 2012). She directs the MFA program at UMass-Boston and 24PearlStreet, the Fine Arts Work Center online.