Life Is the Saddest Thing That Ever Happened to Me


As it turns out, I was the party

waiting to happen, and my mother,


she was the corridor to the clubhouse,

narrow and occult, filled with the scent of light.


I broke the kingdom inside her, broke the gala

of horses straining to get out. I broke the dancehall


mirrors and even the gilded faucet handles.

I was a river that strong. Made for flooding.


On the other side, the game had already started:

The family-in-waiting hot in a match of Scrabble.


I broke the letters, broke the game

board, broke, with my cry, the need for


speech. Only the nurse knew what to say: Here,

Love, placing me at my mother’s breast. In


The Book of Letters, Rabbi Kushner says

the OTIYOT exist independent of ink or paper


or words, says when Moses shattered the first

set of tablets, the letters ascended


to The One Who Gave Them. So, this is how

we arrive in this life: already letting go, mystical


as the ALEF-BEIT, independent of mothers, fathers

and bodies, casting our own incomprehensible,


immortal spells—flying back, already flying back

into the feathery, hollow-boned throat of God.

Melissa Studdard is author poetry collection I Ate the Cosmos for Breakfast and the novel Six Weeks to Yehidah. Her poetry, fiction, essays, reviews and articles have appeared in a wide range of publications, including Poets & Writers, Tupelo Quarterly, Psychology Today, Pleiades, and the Academy of American Poets' Poem-A-Day. Of her debut poetry collection, I Ate the Cosmos for Breakfast, Robert Pinsky writes, “This poet’s ardent, winning ebullience echoes that of God…” and Cate Marvin says her work “would have no doubt pleased Neruda’s taste for the alchemic impurity of poetry.” Learn more at