My wife and I have been at it for hours and still no bite. I want to tell her that the bait slipped, that I really hate fishing where I can’t see. But she wants me to tell her my theory again, the one about men just being fish lured by big water— that they know a hook when they see one. It’s more of a story really. Something all men share at some point in the drink. Men swim slower when there’s no sun to charm them blind, no machines to churn the lots behind them, no iron pipes to crush them into the concrete before a daughter’s first birthday. But the truth is, it’s bullshit. Men tend to toss a lazy cast because it’s easy to forget that a hook is brutal for a reason. And fish, as dumb as they are in their approach, rarely make that mistake twice. Tomorrow night, we’ll try again.

RAY McMANUS is the author of three books of poetry: Punch. (Hub City Press, 2014), Red Dirt Jesus (Marick Press, 2011), Driving through the Country before You Are Born (USC Press, 2007), and he is the co-editor of Found Anew (USC Press 2015). Ray is an associate professor of English at the University of South Carolina Sumter, where he teaches Irish Literature, Southern Literature, and creative writing, and directs the South Carolina Center for Oral Narrative.