BY MELISSA STUDDARD
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,
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
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. www.melissastuddard.com.