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Poissonnier by Stephanie Parent

How much must you scorn yourself

To desire to cleave yourself

In two

And hope someone will notice

The new creature you’ve become?

Or perhaps it is an act of love

To make your outsides match your insides

Show the world something split and broken

Descaled, ripped open

Accept the stab of metal blades

With every step on dry land

Slick rocks, grit sand, soft grass—

All knives

Our human legs are things of violence

They kick and scramble and open wide

Underwater you were safe

Surrounded by waves that rocked you to sleep

A fetus, an embryo

Safe everywhere but within your mind

Where desires woke from their slumber

Like an undertow

Dragging you

Into the most dangerous places

Wanting things you could not possess

Wanting love, but what is love

If not pain?

What is love

If not a split, an opening

An offering of your self to be


In the hopes that someone will see the wound

And fill you?

Love is not like a fish’s tail

Slippery scales that fly you through the waves

With no boundaries, no broken bits, no fears

Love is an anchor

Too heavy to lift on your own

Love is a cry in a raw throat

When you have given up your voice

Love is something you lose

It slips out of your grasp with the knowledge that


You never possessed it at all

Love is something that leaves behind

An echo you can’t see

Though you hear it singing you to sleep

A whisper soft

As sea foam

And as hard to hold


Stephanie Parent is a graduate of the Master of Professional Writing program at USC. Her poetry has been nominated for a Rhysling Award and Best of the Net.

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