top of page

Tugging on Strings


Josie Pierce

The fish have all but left me.
Only one or two remain, minnows in the bucket
on the pier, somewhere near the small of my back,
where you dipped too eager, twirled
and tripped over every bone.

It isn’t the fish who’ve gone really, but the fish smell.
It isn’t even the fish smell, it’s the plod
of your boots in deliberate pursuit - a baby
first learns of dependence from its mother.
Have we been stringed to others ever since?

How many pails of saltwater must we spill
on insatiable sand and how many
broken nails have held this rib cage up
and how many ways can I blame
those lovely hands for all the things
they could not say? Those lovely hands.

What will we talk about come January?
For all those drowsy dawn-heavy hours -
performing our personhood, as if we’re hooked
on the end of one long line.

Josie Pierce is a poet/artist/educator based in New York City. She/he/they grew up in Portland Maine and attended Sarah Lawrence College. Pierce is currently working as a middle school teacher, studying towards a Masters of Art in Teaching at NYU.

bottom of page