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“Twilight Tent” (2011) by Jeremy Chandler. Courtesy of the artist and Mindy Solomon Gallery

Campsite, Shenandoah

Days of kalmia, azalea, Blue Ridge. Nights
of steak on the grill, canvas chairs with cupholders,

cans of Stag and Blatz, Schlitz we lift from ice.
The fork in the firepit, stainless steel gone ember orange.

When I think it’s cool enough, and clean,
I test it to my cheek.

Slender, distinct pain of tines, delicately seared:
a fight with a badger. Faux-tribal scarification.

The next morning the light gives me away, and Josey
laughs, starts calling me Tiny. As in “tines.”

A branding. Brand that reads as shin in Japanese:
kanji for heart, for tenderness. Tenderness

for my own rash heart. Heart of stupidity. Heart
of consequence. Crisp heart to spite my face all week.

 Listen to Jill McDonough read “Campsite, Shenandoah”

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Jill McDonough

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