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Melissa Studdard is the author of two poetry collections, I Ate the Cosmos for Breakfast,and Dear Selection Committee(forthcoming summer 2021), 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 the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day series, and has also appeared in periodicals such as POETRY, Kenyon Review, Psychology Today, New Ohio Review, Harvard Review, Missouri Review, and New England Review. Her Awards include: The Penn Review Poetry Prize, the Tom Howard Prizefrom Winning Writers, the Lucille Medwick Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America, and more.

To Be With Trees

I dreamed of trees with blue veins in a forest full of wilting.
And there, all my southern girl self, full of No thank yous,

full of You first and Go ahead and have the last piece of cake.

I want that that last piece of cake. Dreamed the trees
made me my own torte, and I could have the whole thing.

My sisters, the trees, they said Come now, sit, eat.

They had blue veins in the forest full of wilting, and I cried.
There were no forks. They said my hands were fork enough.

And when I tried to say please, the trees said my eyes

were please, and they said my mouth was thank you,
and the trees cried too. They had beautiful eyes

for crying. A color I had never seen. So I named it

Now anyone who ever saw the color would think of the trees

and the meaning of the trees, which was to be.

*Published at Tinderbox Poetry Journal and in 100 Poems to Save the Earth Anthology, made into a short film by Pat van Boeckel for Visible Poetry Project, and forthcoming in the book Dear Selection Committee.


To Be With Trees

(Translated into Cherokee Syllabary by Translator Mysti S. Milwee ©)

Ꭲ drᎡᎠᎺd Ꭳf trᎡᎡᏍ Ꮻth bᎷᎡ ᎥᎡᎢnᏍ Ꭲn Ꭰ fᎣrᎡᏍt fᎤll Ꭳf ᏫlᏘng.
Ꭰnd tᎮrᎡ, Ꭰll my ᏐᎤtᎮrn Ꭹrl Ꮞlf, fᎤll Ꭳf Ꮓ tᎭnk ᏲᎤᏍ,

fᎤll Ꭳf ᏲᎤ fᎢrᏍt Ꭰnd Ꭺ ᎠᎮᎠd Ꭰnd ᎭᎥᎡ tᎮ ᎳᏍt pᎢᎡcᎡ Ꭳf cᎠkᎡᏩnt tᎭt tᎭt ᎳᏍt pᎢᎡcᎡ Ꭳf cᎠkᎡ. DrᎡᎠᎺd tᎮ trᎡᎡᏍ
ᎹᏕ Ꮊ my Ꭳwn tᎣrᏖ, Ꭰnd Ꭲ cᎣᎤld ᎭᎥᎡ tᎮ wᎰᎴ tᎯng.

My ᏏᏍᏖrᏍ, tᎮ trᎡᎡᏍ, tᎮy ᏌᎢd CᎣᎺ Ꮓw, Ꮟt, ᎡᎠt.

TᎮy Ꭽd bᎷᎡ ᎥᎡᎢnᏍ Ꭲn tᎮ fᎣrᎡᏍt fᎤll Ꭳf ᏫlᏘng, Ꭰnd Ꭲ crᎢᎡd.
TᎮrᎡ ᏪrᎡ Ꮓ fᎣrkᏍ. TᎮy ᏌᎢd my ᎭndᏍ ᏪrᎡ fᎣrk ᎡᏃᎤgh.

Ꭰnd wᎮn Ꭲ trᎢᎡd tᎣ Ꮜy pᎴᎠᏎ, tᎮ trᎡᎡᏍ ᏌᎢd my ᎡᏰᏍ

ᏪrᎡ pᎴᎠᏎ, Ꭰnd tᎮy ᏌᎢd my ᎼᎤth ᏩᏍ tᎭnk ᏲᎤ,
Ꭰnd tᎮ trᎡᎡᏍ crᎢᎡd tᎣᎣ. TᎮy Ꭽd bᎡᎠᎤᏘfᎤl ᎡᏰᏍ

fᎣr crᏱng. Ꭰ cᎣᎶr Ꭲ Ꭽd ᏁᎥᎡr ᏎᎡn. Ꮠ Ꭲ ᎾᎺd Ꭲt

Ꮓw ᎠnᏲᏁ wᎰ ᎡᎥᎡr Ꮜw tᎮ cᎣᎶr ᏬᎤld tᎯnk Ꭳf tᎮ trᎡᎡᏍ

Ꭰnd tᎮ ᎺᎠᏂng Ꭳf tᎮ trᎡᎡᏍ, wᎯch ᏩᏍ tᎣ bᎡ.

Family Tree

My mother was a lake
	full of water lilies,

my father was a bridge
	between the bardo

and heaven. He tossed me
	to his shoulders

for the parade of grandparents
	at night: Orion

and Cassiopeia, Gemini and Auriga.
	Once we saw a cousin

shoot from the ground beside
	a circle of pines. Geyser,

Mother said, tossing a silver
	carp into the air. When

I was old enough, I asked them
	the story of my birth,

and they each handed me a singing
	sparrow the color of my hair.

*Published in Skin Deep Anthology and forthcoming in the book Dear Selection Committee


Family Tree

(Translated into Cherokee Syllabary by Translator Mysti S. Milwee ©)

My ᎼtᎮr ᏩᏍ Ꭰ ᎳkᎡ
	fᎤll Ꭳf ᏩᏖr ᎵᎵᎡᏍ,

my fᎠtᎮr ᏩᏍ Ꭰ brᎢdᎨ
	bᎡtᏪᎡn tᎮ bᎠrᏙ

Ꭰnd ᎮᎠᎥᎡn. Ꭾ tᎣᏍᏎd Ꮊ

fᎣr tᎮ pᎠrᎠᏕ Ꭳf grᎠndpᎠrᎡntᏍ
	Ꭰt Ꮒght: ᎣrᎢᎣn

	ᎣncᎡ Ꮺ Ꮜw Ꭰ cᎣᎤᏏn

ᏍᎰᎣt frᎣm tᎮ grᎣᎤnd bᎡᏏᏕ
	Ꭰ cᎢrcᎴ Ꭳf pᎢᏁᏍ. ᎨyᏎr,

ᎼtᎮr ᏌᎢd, tᎣᏍᏏng Ꭰ ᏏᎸᎡr
	cᎠrp ᎢntᎣ tᎮ ᎠᎢr. WᎮn

Ꭲ ᏩᏍ Ꭳld ᎡᏃᎤgh, Ꭲ ᎠᏍkᎡd tᎮm
	tᎮ ᏍtᎣry Ꭳf my bᎢrth,

Ꭰnd tᎮy ᎡᎠch ᎭnᏕd Ꮊ Ꭰ ᏏnᎩng
	ᏍpᎠrrᎣw tᎮ cᎣᎶr Ꭳf my ᎭᎢr.

If Falling is a Leaf

urging the earth
into autumn
the branch is a lover who remembers
orange unlocked at the gates of fire

orange so bold it seduces green

orange unbuttoning the sun
and wearing it to summer’s funeral

because in loss
we are most vibrant

because urgent regions
of the leaf’s mind
ignite only when it opens
to its own demise

all foliage
is reincarnated into desire

and we’re slayed
by light coming in
through a kitchen window

as though we hadn’t already seen it
for decades through the same pane

so we sneak to the coatroom
of our own party to make love
in everyone else’s fur

feral but divine

our behavior is not wholly holy
but the trees

oh my God

they wear their hearts on their leaves

Ꭲf FᎠlᎵng ᎢᏍ Ꭰ ᎴᎠf

If Falling is a Leaf

(Translated into Cherokee Syllabary by Translator Mysti S. Milwee ©)

ᎤrᎩng tᎮ ᎡᎠrth
ᎢntᎣ ᎠᎤtᎤmn
tᎮ brᎠnch ᎢᏍ Ꭰ ᎶᎥᎡr wᎰ rᎡᎺmbᎡrᏍ
ᎣrᎠnᎨ ᎤnᎶckᎡd Ꭰt tᎮ ᎦᏖᏍ Ꭳf fᎢrᎡ

ᎣrᎠnᎨ Ꮠ bᎣld Ꭲt ᏎᏚcᎡᏍ grᎡᎡn

ᎣrᎠnᎨ ᎤnbᎤttᎣᏂng tᎮ Ꮡn
Ꭰnd ᏪᎠrᎢng Ꭲt tᎣ ᏑmᎺr’Ꮝ fᎤᏁrᎠl

Ꮺ ᎠrᎡ ᎼᏍt ᎥᎢbrᎠnt

Ꭳf tᎮ ᎴᎠf’Ꮝ Ꮋnd
ᎢgᏂᏖ Ꭳnly wᎮn Ꭲt ᎣpᎡnᏍ
tᎣ ᎢtᏍ Ꭳwn ᏕᎻᏎ


Ꭰnd Ꮺ’rᎡ ᏍᎳᏰd
by Ꮅght cᎣᎻng Ꭲn
thrᎣᎤgh Ꭰ kᎢtcᎮn ᏫnᏙw

ᎠᏍ tᎰᎤgh Ꮺ Ꭽdn’t ᎠlrᎡᎠdy ᏎᎡn Ꭲt
fᎣr ᏕcᎠᏕᏍ thrᎣᎤgh tᎮ ᏌᎺ pᎠᏁ

Ꮠ Ꮺ ᏍᏁᎠk tᎣ tᎮ cᎣᎠtrᎣᎣm
Ꭳf ᎣᎤr Ꭳwn pᎠrty tᎣ ᎹkᎡ ᎶᎥᎡ

fᎡrᎠl bᎤt ᏗᎥᎢᏁ

ᎣᎤr bᎡᎭᎥᎢᎣr ᎢᏍ Ꮓt wᎰlly Ꮀly
bᎤt tᎮ trᎡᎡᏍ

Ꭳh my Ꭺd

tᎮy ᏪᎠr tᎮᎢr ᎮᎠrtᏍ Ꭳn tᎮᎢr ᎴᎠᎥᎡᏍ

Published by mystismilwee

(Painter, Poet, Digital Artist, Storyboard Artist, Illustrator, Photographer, Lyricist, Spoken Word Poet, Songwriter, Singer, Musician, Dancer, Theatrical Performer, Screenwriter, Synesthete, Philosopher, Academician, Motivational Speaker)......see my page for Biography


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