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POEM

INTEGRATING THE SHADOW

A Poem by Melissa Studdard


I was a bird in the hand of God.

I was two in the bush,

the yin to my own yang, yang to yin,
drinking gin on the porch at midnight,
or otherwise drinking teayou see

how it isBach on TuesdaysThursdays
acid rock, tie-dyed t-shirts and jeans.
Mornings I fed the needy and blessed
their souls with sticky kisses.
I sang to them and lotioned their feet
with lilac cream and peppermint oil,
humbled by their poverty, inspired
by the way they got out of bed
without cigarettes or coffee.
Afternoons I cursed their lazy
asses and stepped over them
in the streets on my way to the pub
seeking a little warmth or a quiet corner
in which to ponder the implication
of lips on brass, to dance, unmolested,
with my own shadow, which was my worst
enemy, and, conspicuously, my only friend.

I was a bird in the hand of God.

I was two in the bush.

I was a pair of white pants in a drive-by
puddle splash, a drunk with beer down
the front of my shirt. I was ketchup
on my own sleeve, a rash on an otherwise
clear face, a tainted, defiled disaster,
stained by life, soiled and damn near effaced
by that often-unrecognizable prankster,
my troublemaker, my doppelganger,
that saucy vamp, grace.


*From I Ate the Cosmos for Breakfast


Melissa Studdard’s books include the poetry collection I Ate the Cosmos for Breakfast and the novel Six Weeks to Yehidah. Her writings have appeared in a wide range of publications, such as The Guardian, Poets & Writers, New Ohio Review, Harvard Review, and Psychology Today. She is the executive producer and host of VIDA Voices & Views for VIDA: Women in Literary Arts, president of the women's caucus for Associated Writing Programs, and an editor for American Microreviews and Interviews. 



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