sporklet 16
Julie Webb
Our First Lessons

Sometimes just the timbre of a man’s voice
calls to me. Walking through sand and explaining to his niece
what a fly is, they walk around its trajectory:
how its green florescence reflects in domed eyes,
the split-second decision to lurch into it,
to hook themselves to metal and nylon.


He is holding her hand. They are walking
back and forth. This is something I want:


the air that runs through the hair,
the tall grasses brushing this small moment
as he smooths down the edges of her anxiety.


The whippoorwill of the rod
pulling the line over the waves.


Sometimes I think I won’t know
to trust my own judgement.
Is it enough to love someone who loves you? And:
What must it be like to have a hand to hold in this way?


My dad explained what trout look for:
the cold water, the shade,
the overhand kept at 11-2;
not 9-12; not 12-3.


No flick of the twining wrist.
He holds my hand and arm taut,
a stiff metronome.
He wants to show me power, but instead
pulls against me.


I cast like this for a minute
but then I begin to move,
my whole body tilting into it
swaying down,


my cast made better
by what I know directions cannot hold:
the distance between the fly and the water;
the floating line and the snag;
between knowing and being known.


Even a soft hand can mangle;
even a perfect cast can catch no fish.

Julie Webb is a Northern California poet currently living in England. She recently graduated Bowling Green State University's MFA program, where she served as Managing Editor of Mid-American Review, and is the current Blog Editor of Longleaf Review. When not writing from quarantine, she can be found making videos of hedgehogs in her backyard.