Frank Giampietro


As my son watches the fish thwack against the side of the spackle bucket, I search my tool

box for needle-nose pliers: A Phillips-head, an orange box cutter, razorblades packed in

cardboard, and a broken measuring tape pile like ancient monument stones on the dock.

Gills bleeding heavily, the crappie lifts easily from the bucket. It has swallowed the hook.

I show my son, beware the fierce, sharp fin. We have lots more hooks. But does the hook

hurt the fish’s throat? he asks as we release it into the dark water. Struggling up the steep

bank, my son snaps off milkweed stems. The banked willow tree hasn’t an answer. I hold

onto roots and dirt with my lying, stinking hands.




“Vain” is from Begin Anywhere (Alice James Books, 2008).