Every Atom | No. 14

Jill McDonough

Introduction to Every Atom by project curator Brian Clements

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These lines predate the Civil War, of course, but they bring to mind a Huntington Library holding: one of Whitman’s Hospital Notebooks, a soft little yellow thing hand-bound with pink ribbon. It’s the size of your palm, or his. Whitman went all over the place looking for his brother, and then just visiting the wounded soldiers. He made notes of who was where:


Geo W Monk g s wound Ward 2, bed 50


and who wanted what:


Bed 13 ward G Albert J Marurier amp left leg –tooth brush


Joseph Reisenger get him some lemons


Young man in Ward H or I sitting in chair waiting to have his arm taken off—I saw him on the operating table frothing at mouth [and then in pen over that pencil text at an angle it says Dead]


some fruit (strawberries or sweet peaches)


wound edges rotted away flies the smell is awful great sores


bed 25 Henry D Boardman Co B 27th Conn is from Northfod Conn. 7 miles from New Haven—gave him a rice-pudding another day a lemon custard


Ward 6 Wm Doty (bed 53) liquorice a good book sweet plug tobacco

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Three-time Pushcart prize winner Jill McDonough is the recipient of Lannan, NEA, Cullman Center, and Stegner fellowships. Her most recent book is Reaper (Alice James, 2017); Here All Night, her fifth collection, is forthcoming from Alice James Books. She teaches in the MFA program at UMass-Boston.


Cover art by J. D. Schraffenberger