I fished out in the middle
and fished around the shore,
I fished all day and caught nothing . . .
only the creak of oarlocks
and the cry of a moorhen
and beat of geese flying over.

The next day Monaghan came
in his van. Joe’s an artist
and one of the best fly-fishermen.
I said they ought to stock the lake.
No, he said, for the small fish
take everything. The big ones
grow despondent and lie on the bottom.

That night he took me out with him.
No rowing . . . he had an outboard motor.
We anchored off a point in the dark
and waited.

Around ten-thirty
the night came alive with splashes.
He stood and cast, lunging toward the sound.
The rise lasted for half an hour
and when the night was still again
he had caught three lovely fish.

Some day I’d like to go back
and hear the cry of a moorhen
and learn from that man how to fish.

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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 6 Number 4, on page 48
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