by Melissa Studdard
We hid in the belly of porcelain. The world
sang sirens overlapping, the sound of wind
taking gates from the hinge. That whistling, yes.
Whistling and whipping, the world the cry
of a cow caught in the spin of a twister and lifted.
Water creeping to the back door like a thief.
It wanted the jewels of our eyes.
In the house next door, a woman breastfed
another woman’s baby, the thin-sweet milk.
Across the street, a man wrote social security numbers
on his kids’ arms with a Sharpie—a game, he said.
And in our tub we held the news in our palms:
forty dogs from a kennel rescued by boat, a guy
on paddleboard heaving toddlers from a window, one
by one. And trapped across town, a shop full
of bakers sleeping on flour sacks, baking all day—
they slept and baked, slept and sprinkled.
For whoever might need. Not even sampling
or licking a finger. Once, I thought humankind
brutal and nature benign—foolish child
with my frog in a box, my holey lid.
Once, before, I asked to be delivered.
O sugar-hungry God, the world
has been dredged and is waiting.
Illustration/Sculpture by Courtney Bennett