Night Fishing

by Ray McManus

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.