Bryanna Licciardi – Fish Love

Bryanna Licciardi

Fish Love

“Too much of love is fish love.”
Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski

The first boy to touch me
threw me on a bed
and smothered my mouth
in his mouth. I tasted
the pizza we’d just shared,
garlic, tomatoes.
He didn’t want to
give me this moment.
This moment was his.
It was so incredibly sad,
so I told myself
to become a fish—
quick, flexible, able
to push back
against this current.
Fish are powerful.
Fish are easily caught.
And this was what
I thought it meant to be
a woman in love,
which is to say I spent years
opening my throat for
man after man to gut.

The story goes
that a rabbi finds a man
gutting fish by the river.
Why do you kill these fish?
the rabbi asks,
and the man replies,
Because I love fish.

How often is love nothing
more than fish love,
which is to say
people devour what it is
they love in you.

We met online which meant
we were doomed, and yet
you kept calling and I kept
answering and you kept
asking what you could give me
and I didn’t understand,
so I kept talking about fish.

Fish moan and croak,
sometimes gnash their teeth
to communicate.
Did you know they hear
through reverberations
against their flesh?
Which is to say
their tiny bones shudder
when something’s coming.

But you saw through
my choreographed sidetracks,
you persisted, deeply human in
your devotion… which is to say
I’m out of my depths here.

Your warm words wash over me,
wash away my scales, fins,
the operculum and lateral line.
You are warming up my blood,

again. My love.
This poem
is all just to say
I am finally listening.
And in hearing you,
I am resurrected,
fish no more.


Bryanna Licciardi has received her MFA in Poetry and is currently pursuing her PhD in Literacy Studies. Her debut chapbook SKIN SPLITTING is out from Finishing Line Press (2017). She is a Pushcart Prize nominee, and has had work appear in journals such as Poetry Quarterly, BlazeVOX, 491 Magazine, Adirondack Review, and Cleaver Magazine. Visit for more about her.


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