The lake is high, flooded with spring rains. And it’s the first time we’ve fished together in fifteen years. Eye-level with him, I think about the proportions of my world, how they’ve changed. How mountains shrink the further south I go. Daddy tells me to cast with both hands. To let the lure sink into silt before reeling it back in. Tug as you pull, so he looks like a little frog kicking its legs, he says. My bait’s too big to catch anything in this small lake, we both know it. He asks if I remember fishing at B.T. Brown Reservoir. The time when I buried all three hooks of a rooster tail lure in the back of my head. I begged him to stop for Taco Bell on the way to the emergency room. We ate nachos beneath a streetlight, my legs swinging off the end of his truck bed and my head bleeding just a little. I only remember the hospital—because you can take and unmake anything when you mean it enough.
He covers a simple hook with a tiny ball of Sunbeam, the kind he tosses from the dock each evening while he drags on a cigarette. The brim trust it, this bread. He catches two fish: one survives, the other floats.
Originally from the tiny mill village of Sargent, Georgia, ASHLEY DAILEY is a poet and multimedia artist whose work can be found in New Delta Review, Plume Poetry, Aquifer: The Florida Review Online, Peatsmoke Journal, Okay Donkey Magazine, and elsewhere. She is the winner of an Academy of American Poets Prize and received her MFA from the University of Tennessee, where she served as poetry editor for Grist Journal, taught creative writing, and hosted the virtual reading series Chiasmus. In fall 2021, she will begin pursuing her PhD in Creative Writing and Literature at the University of Southern California.
Header art: "Dolabela Engineer" by Guilherme Bergamini.