by RT Smith Issue: Spring/Summer 2019

I imagine you beginning

to tie this season’s flies, your

eyes squinting at the splash

of lamplight, the tiny vice

and militant hook, a surgeon’s

deliberate fingers. Already

dreaming of mercy, catch

and release, you are patient

with pliers, miniature

snips and whip finisher,

the instruments arrayed

on a table with medical care,

line slender as an optical

nerve.  Did you test every thread

and feather for weight and wind

resistance? Somewhere brown

trout are sleeping. Rainbows

and brookies drift, resting up

for the lunge at living wings,

the Mayflies’ dart and flitter

you mimic with fine artifice.

Beginning and end, the world

comes down to this –  shadowed

light across water, a regimen

embellished with whim.

In your unflinching grace

I imagine the essential Vermeer,

his passion for precision,

his perfect maker of lace.

Your life comes down to this,

stitch by blessed stitch,

all in practice for the cast

and that single splendid leap

into the light, out of the wily deep.

RT Smith

R. T. Smith served as the first editor of Cold Mountain Review.  He has since edited Southern Humanities Review and Shenandoah, from which he recently retired after 23 years.  Two of his books, Messenger (LSU) and Outlaw Style (Arkansas) received the Library of Virginia Book of the year Award.  He has also been honored with the Alabama Governor's Award for Achievement in the Arts and the Virginia Governor's Award.  His most recent book of stories is Doves in Flight (Louisiana Literature Press,) and a new book of poems entitled Summoning Shades (Mercer U Press) will be released in 2019.  Smith lives on Timber Ridge in Rockbridge County, Virginia with his wife, the writer Sarah Kennedy, and their bluetick hound Gypsy, a functional illiterate.