Fish Tale

by Ann Sosnowski
I have to keep reminding myself that this Lie only exists because someone else paid enough attention. When you and I stopped selling ourselves down the river, this fib grew fins and swam underwater from the last syllable falling off our tongues, and landed on the shore of pavement we built around home. It settled and dried and fossilized, smoothing into the concrete, frozen between the lips of our last kiss. And that Lie sat untroubled through seasons of disregard, frozen and layered within the frost of a treeless plain; that Lie we cultivated in hard times, held under our shirts in the rain, protected from damning eyes, melted into stone. Our shared deception grew roots, took root, ripened into weeds, and shifted the land underfoot. And that untruth, built from words that always bound us together after the sun set, so tight that we couldn’t breathe easy in solid cadence, molded into form from the softheaded seconds, sat as a dusty relic we boxed up and wrote off as history.


When everyone else was still around and they asked us, with their eyebrows cocked to the side, or a drink coming off their lips and a cigarette going to them, we said that silence was the culprit and laughed. Our excavation, those tiny chisels and brushes gnawing and clicking against the layers instead built a coffin around us, dank and dark and immeasurable with soft and uneven walls. We crumpled the remains of our unspoken life into mineral dust, sifting the grains through our fingers, trying to destroy the traces of our history. We refused to jump out of these boned bodies, too sour to explore these scars that shackled our fingers in place, while sorcery swirled strings around our innards, tying together every inch of soft and bone.


Baby, you know well enough where I live now:

I’m still on that rusty and severe avenue where lights are turned off, before they go out; where caution is a chore I accept readily; where a voice turns the corner and fades in silence. That muteness, that reserve, yells where water block echoes within a bowl of containment begot from small deceptions and grown larger. And that design we molded out of stolen glances and diverted eyes built slippery crumb by slippery crumb into a legion of scales, into a fish burrowing beneath this whitewash, painted over, but never flat and out of sight.

And far from these streets you troll the outskirts of our Lie without teeth, famished but unable to feed for fear you would uncover it yet again. That specimen sleeps like sweet wine waiting to be unbottled, still swishes between our cheeks, making our tongues water with want. That same Lie still has gills to breathe and can swim out to the farthest sea and leave us alone if it only stopped wanting to be dug up, placated, acknowledged.


The same hands that tore apart time with muscle and might still rummage for those lips where our Lies tumbled from the bottle; that same blood that quickens to another’s pulse still dances in my fingers when it hears the rushing waves of its origins. That fib we told so many years laughing is busting from the inside out, and keeps digging against its own mud and dirt, encroaching upon the borderline we drew at our fissure.

I hear that someone’s been feeding that Lie from its source, and will keep throwing flake upon precious flake of food into that Fish Tale until it grows so fat and full and unconstrained that no home, no encasement, no turbulent whirlpool will keep it flowing from our lips: when that ocean grew from nothing but a trickle, when the fissure was nothing but a hairline fracture, when our Love was a whole skeleton built hard and not yet busted.


Ann-Sosnowski1Ann Sosnowski is a writer, proposal developer and blogger from Baltimore, Maryland. After more than 20 years honing her craft as a poet, she has recently branched out into writing longer-form essays, memoir and short stories. Her writing tends to focus on the hidden lives of personal relationships and explores the communication, or lack thereof, between people in everyday life. Ann has recently been published by Bards and Sages, Welter and Carte Blanche. She is currently earning her MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Goucher College.

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