Shenandoah Volume 68, Number 1
Volume 68, Number 1 · Fall 2018


Not for the wild girl who taught me French kissing.

Or other poets with their leaps and plastic bags and ovens.

The first, that older boy from school who bagged our bread and eggs

late afternoons. His brother, three desks back, kept his head down

two days running, until the teacher made him lift his face

to fractions and the Battle of Beacon Hill. It never seemed

that difficult for someone else to die.

They said that suicide was contagious and, after the hanging girl,

kept watch over us for days. But those sad deaths only served

to shore me up. Besides, my dread was the dread of getting there.

Like any traveler, I wanted least of all the journey interrupted—

the forced-down emetic, the choked-upon tube, wrist

staunched and stitched back together.

Then, I worried if the words were enough without it.

Now, childless and so often alone in the snowed-down

village, I want nothing to do with stones or services.

I want my books burned and the body, likewise,

wrought down to ashes or left in a copse of sycamores

to be taken back, cell after cell, by the ground—I want

never to have been here but I am.

Janet McAdams is the author of the chapbook Seven Boxes for the Country After (Kent State, 2016), the novel Red Weather (Arizona, 2012), and two collections of poetry, Feral (Salt, 2007) and The Island of Lost Luggage (Arizona, 2000), which won the American Book Award. She teaches at Kenyon College, where she is the Robert P. Hubbard Professor of Poetry and an editor at large for the Kenyon Review.
An Interview with Janet McAdams
From the Archives: An Interview with Janet McAdams (Volume 56, Number 3, 2006) (pdf)