He drags a stringer of sunfish at dusk,
one fat bass at the end of nylon cord
looped through dirty gills, and slips by his mother
(watching TV) to fill the tub and dump
stiff fish afloat with shampoo bottles, soap,
and a bright yellow duck. What is hope?
A sharp tug that proves he chose the right jig?
A shore where only children shout? How big
a channel cat or bass might be? His damp clothes
dry on the towel rod. A hush replaces
dusk. He sleeps in a chair. His mother
cleans the tub. A family is hard scale
on which to weigh the keepers, a cutting board
covered with guts, a slit from gills to tail.
Copyright © Tod Marshall
Used with the permission of the author
on behalf of Poetry Northwest.