M.R. Smith

New Apprentice


Let me tell you about when I came here.

The neighbor takes me fishing, not my father.


On the Gallatin, on one great sweep of curve

too long for a cut bank, he rigs my weights,


then my hook with worm. To hell with the fly fishermen,

we’re here to catch fish. When I reel in the big brown


he says it has my name on it. I think he is a god,

both of them. When I am a little older I ride my bike


all summer long from Bozeman to Four Corners

to work for a builder. I learn things I never use again.


I make inept hammer marks on the soffit, where

the patient carpenter carefully signs in ink my name


for posterity, winking to the other man who makes

no mistakes, this true apprentice who doesn’t like me.


When I came here the neighbor found me a job,

not my father who was busy making new sons.


When I left here the river stayed behind,

and the apprentice found his own apprentice.


Someday I’m going to come back for the river,

or that house if I need to look up my name.

M.R. Smith is a technology executive writing in Boise, Idaho. His work has appeared or will appear in publications such as The Cascadia Review, Camas, The Literary Bohemian, Punchnel's, The Red River Review, Blacktop Passages, the FutureCycle Press anthology What Poets See, and the Western Press Books anthology Manifest West among others.




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