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  • When the birdsong rings human
  • Melissa Studdard (bio)

the bird forgets its tongue, like a time traveleraccidentally leaving a glove in a year that hasn'thappened. The tongue wanders strange graystreets, its sour and sweet buds lit up withthe nightingale's hunger, glowing like a jellyfishin the rain. Now the tongue knows no house canpromise safety. Not the sheath of mouth. Not eventhe body, which laughs at the body of time, stretchedlike a poolside lizard across dimensions. The tonguebellows for the nightingale across the green. Thenightingale hears what she thinks is an echo—notblazing, but persistent, ever-present, a little fuzzy,like a radio that's not coming in well or the humand buzz of the streetlamps and telephone wiresthe nightingale knew in that other world. Everythingthe nightingale means to say turns ancient at the rootand falls off. Because god is not a clock, nor a sundial,reaching forward with narrow arms. God is a milliontiny pieces, like glitter, or destiny, breaking fleshinto astonishment, breaking pain into daggers of light. [End Page 16]

Melissa Studdard

Melissa Studdard is the author of the poetry collection I Ate the Cosmos for Breakfast (Saint Julian Press, 2014). Her writings have appeared in the Guardian, the New York Times, Poetry, Harvard Review, New Ohio Review, Psychology Today, Poets & Writers, and more. Her manuscript-in-progress is a poetry collection told mostly from the perspective of Philomela's severed tongue. To learn more, visit



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