In the Teeth of Her Frown
That was the year we
prayed inside the temples inside
each other’s mouths, lit our tongues
in hope’s crossfire,
while the child called
to the stone-eyed
road. Dumped on the highway like a dog. That was
the year we knelt to siren scream, tried to help her:
her polka-dotted suitcase, her
scabbed knees, snow warm blood.
When we asked her name, she said
thousands of lies live inside her the color of night,
like termites chewing down a barn,
like a card house
about to fall. We said,
We hate the person who did this to you.
She said, But what can you tell me
Hanging from the Rafters
We got her a kitten
because her wrist was the color
of apples, browning just a little from the bite.
Her chest was a moth in a killing jar.
If you could trace her veins:
the widest rivers in the most fertile lands.
And it seemed for a while
okay. Her ruffle panties,
her Barbie dolls, the homemade cards.
Then one day
we discovered the carrots
floating in the toilet:
enemy soldiers from the reenactment,
their dark hearts reminding us
the body doesn’t forget.
Losing Track of the Skeletons
Maybe she was building a sunset
out of bones. How could we tell through
the burning? Every
door she’d locked had been broken down. All
her windows smashed. We asked her age,
and she said she was a vacant house full of squatters,
that she wandered night with an owl
on the tip of a breeze.
Later, we drove her home through ash
as she sat singing
a river of angry fish. We fed her
bananas and blueberry syrup over
waffles with chocolate milk. We
conjured fairies and lucky
band-aids and unicorns for her wounds.
Soon, there was nothing left in her
but little girl, nothing but crescent
eyes and yawning, the burden of unearned trust.
And, so, we were
tragically hooked. And
she, being hurricane, or well-timed
knows which?) tore up
the one path
we thought we had cleared.
Of her debut poetry collection, I Ate the Cosmos for Breakfast, Robert Pinsky writes, “This poet’s ardent, winning ebullience echoes that of God…” and Cate Marvin says her work “would have no doubt pleased Neruda’s taste for the alchemic impurity of poetry.” Melissa Studdard is an editor for American Microreviews and Interviews, hosts Tiferet Talk radio, and judges the monthly Goodreads ¡Poetry! Group contest. She is also the author of the novel, Six Weeks to Yehidah, and a collection of interviews, The Tiferet Talk Interviews. Her awards include the Forward National Literature Award and the International Book Award. Her poetry, fiction, essays, reviews and articles have appeared in a wide-range of publications, including Pleiades, Poets & Writers, Tupelo Quarterly, Psychology Today, and Connecticut Review.