The two tall boys, brothers, both
with wire-rimmed glasses, with wicker
creels, fly-fishing gear, and vests
with patches of sheepskin shearling
dotted with troutflies, worked their way
downstream in their rubber waders.
When they passed me where I sat
watching my red and white bobber
under a tree limb decorated with
colorful lures, hooks, shiny spoons,
and dangling tangled fishing line,
I felt shame. They might have been
aristocrats, those tall twins. “”Hey,”
I waved. “You catching anything?”
They looked at each other, smiled,
and sloshed downstream to the bend.
Or maybe they were a year apart like
my younger brother Bobby and me.
People said we looked like twins.
Once we brought Bobby to fish
from his wheelchair. He caught nothing
and didn’t much enjoy himself;
I could tell from the look he gave me,
and from the look he gave me after that
whenever I left the house with my rod.
I envied those identical fortunate boys
their fancy tackle as I sat there, angry,
with my coffee can of nightcrawlers,
staring at my plastic bobber, wanting
to hurt one or the other of them badly,
and plotting to leave that place forever.
Richard Hoffman has published four books of poetry: Without Paradise, Gold Star Road, Emblem, and Noon Until Night. He is also author of the celebrated Half the House: A Memoir, and the 2014 memoir Love & Fury, in addition to the collection Interference & Other Stories. He is on leave this spring from his position as senior writer in residence at Emerson College and teaching in the graduate program at Columbia University.