Planted My Shame in the Backyard
Planted its bones beneath a blooming magnolia. Carried its head
past a split of fence. Did not ask why
the shine of remaining alive. Instead walked filthy
with my hands full of prayers. Delivered their blood
to the flask of shadow. Planted knuckles
and shinbones. Shoveled soil over
shards of the coffee cup
hurled at my face. Buried spatulas and gin bottles
and broken lamps. Used the flat
side of the shovel to pound it all down
into the loamy gash
holy dark as my woman gash
that has swallowed
to no avail
the fevers of this world.
We Made a Gala
I’ve lived 7,000 years already.
5,000 of them in countries I’ve never visited.
This century is the conversation that disrupts
my heart. We’ve eaten a plate of fiasco,
a paint-by-numbers pandemic
of pandemonium proportions, 1,000 pans of egg rice.
I’d show you the world as I see it, but that might
shatter your preconceived notions
and how would we repair that? The truth is, God’s sweet on
the magpies and the miniscule, and Eve
never bit any apple. She wore a hat made of honey
and danced like a wood nymph
through the orchard of history, so the orchard
wilted beneath her beauty. When fear
becomes irrational we nickname it woman, apple,
snake, breasts. I can’t answer your questions, but I can
bless your dirty laundry and tell you
sin’s secrets. And, yes, safety is a luxury, but maybe
we humans deserve it—so I mix memory with vodka
and call it a highball.
I walk through the meadows of suffering,
the parking lots of wonder. When the funeral comes, it will
not be for the living,
it will be for us. I am singing a song for you,
reading the century’s eulogy. Weren’t we terrific?
We made a gala in our suits made of skin.
Melissa Studdard is the author of two poetry collections, I Ate the Cosmos for Breakfast and Dear Selection Committee. Her Awards include The Penn ReviewPoetry Prize, the Tom Howard Prize from Winning Writers, the Lucille Medwick Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America, and more.