Two Poems


We’ll Never Be Done With the Starfish

just like we’ll never be 
done with love. From the littoral zone to abyssal 
depths, sea stars survive—three armed, 
six armed, one armed 
and forging a whole new body 
from a ring of nerve. We want love that can regenerate 
from almost nothing, love that can survive
starvation and neglect. Sometimes we forget 
to feed it. Sometimes we forget 
it exists. If starfish had tongues 
they would advise us that when maimed,         
anything left
is enough to rebuild. And we would float 
away with them, tucking hypervigilance 
into a rarely opened drawer 
of thought, like the small, blue sock 
stuffed with $20’s. There just in case.
But probably, we wouldn’t need it.

When the Body Parts Sleepwalk

they always try to attach themselves back 
to their lives. Lizard tails scrape 
across pavement, chasing avocado-green bodies
beneath the fluttering hair of a root-white moon,
and a single shark could be stalked 
millions of nautical miles 
by more than 24,000 teeth. The gods look down 
with their compact binoculars, shaking 
their heads and blaming each other 
the way a couple will say your 
kid in an argument about what their kid 
has done wrong. Silence turns lunar then,
and a star cupid shoots itself 
through the mesosphere like an arrow 
trying to find a heart. 
In this quivering moment
all things are whole again
and holy
before the star 
and the flash-lit dreams of the lonely
burn themselves out again. 

MELISSA STUDDARD is the author of the poetry collection I Ate the Cosmos for Breakfast and the chapbook Like a Bird with a Thousand Wings. Her work has been featured by PBS, NPR, The New York Times, The Guardian, and more. Her awards include the Lucille Medwick Award from the Poetry Society of America, The Penn Review Poetry Prize, and the Tom Howard Prize for Winning Writers.