Elizabeth Bishop, Valentine

By Jill McDonoughFebruary 13, 2013

Elizabeth Bishop, Valentine

I’M GAY MARRIED to Josey Packard. When we were first dating, I gave her this poem.

The best part, the new black, the money shot: “and look what happens.” Josey and I say it all the time, meaning marriage. Its gold inlays, totaled pick-up trucks, hot girl-on-girl, and high-fiber snacks.

What happens: ceviche in central Mexico, micheladas made with fishy ice. Three hours in an airport lounge, an hour on a ferry. Crepey skin, creaky knees, double menopause, stat. Phosphorescence, Perseids, and Northern Lights. Ramos Gin Fizzes for breakfast, cold champagne at 4 a.m. Extra alive for all of it. 

And look.

— Jill McDonough

Elizabeth Bishop, “The Shampoo”


The still explosions on the rocks,
the lichens, grow

by spreading, gray, concentric shocks.

They have arranged

to meet the rings around the moon, although

within our memories they have not changed.


And since the heavens will attend

as long on us,

you've been, dear friend,

precipitate and pragmatical;

and look what happens. For Time is

nothing if not amenable.


The shooting stars in your black hair

in bright formation

are flocking where,

so straight, so soon? –

Come, let me wash it in this big tin basin,

battered and shiny like the moon.

[more Valentine's Day poems]

LARB Contributor

Jill McDonough's 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.  She teaches poetry at UMass-Boston and directs 24PearlStreet, the online writing program at the Fine Arts Work Center.  


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