The Manchester Review
Tom French
Four poems
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for Éamon Little, on our birthday


Were you conceived in the room you sleep in
upstairs now with your wife and children?
The search for the truth begins and ends
with the register for sea trout and salmon
lifted from the river, where, among currents,
spring tides and pools, your surname occurs.


Although they are beautiful, if you can turn
a blind eye to the names for bait and lures -
Damsel Nymph, Fluttering Sedge, Hare’s Ear,
Black Ghost, Whirligig, Night Muddler
this book, filled as it is with names and weights,
is a dead ringer for the one the midwife keeps.


Even now, as we rise to check on the children
where they sleep within earshot of the river,
two midwives are rising in darkness, dressing
for all weathers, fixing, what pass, in this light,
for fishing tackle boxes to their carriers, and
setting out in opposite directions to deliver us.