Admit Possession to Rent

By Tod Marshall Tod Marshall
We stopped at a farmer’s house
before parking at the dock
that creaked over the river.
Rowboats for rent, five bucks
an hour, twenty for the day.
Deep water: I knew a canvas bag
was in the trunk. I knew lunch
would be roast beef sandwiches
and hot stew from a thermos,
chunks of carrot and potatoes
cut by my mother who slept
through the racket of our leaving.
While my father paid, I loaded
the boat with our poles
and tackle boxes, lead sinkers
shaped like grey pears, raincoats
and a case of beer. I was ten
and I knew my dad would toss
that canvas bag into the aluminum
boat with a thunk. We fish for gar
with kittens, he’d yelled last night
at my mother, and that was that.
The rowboat slid from the dock,
the occasional clunk of the first
six-pack clipped on the fish stringer,
and I knew that I should take my time
fastening the wire leader
to the brass swivel, tying on
those massive sinkers. I knew
that the six-inch treble hook
would tremble in my hands,
and when I was done, I knew
what came next, a canvas bag,
stiff kittens, blood. I tore
two hooks through the side
of a calico, yanked upward with a
sharp tug to lodge the third barb
beneath the ribs. I dangled
my fingers in cold water
to wash them, then reared
the rod back into a cast that splashed
twenty feet from the boat.
He popped the third beer and finished
baiting his hook. Too deep
for an anchor, we drifted,
and far beneath, the gar cruised
back and forth, their prehistoric
snouts slicing the dark, bumping
our bait again and again
until that fierce hunger I was learning
said clamp down and take it.

Tod Marshall, "Admit Possession to Rent" from The Tangled Line. Copyright © 2009 by Tod Marshall.  Reprinted by permission of Canarium Books.

Source: The Tangled Line (Canarium Books, 2009)

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Poet Tod Marshall

POET’S REGION U.S., Northwestern

Subjects Living, Coming of Age, Parenthood, Activities, Sports & Outdoor Activities, Nature, Animals

 Tod  Marshall


Tod Marshall grew up in Kansas. His books of poetry include Bugle (Canarium Press, 2014), The Tangled Line (Canarium Press, 2009), and Dare Say (University of Georgia Press, 2002). He has also published a collection of his interviews with contemporary poets, Range of the Possible (Eastern Washington University Press, 2002) and an attendant anthology of work by the interviewed poets, Range of Voices (EWU Press, 2005). He lives in . . .

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SUBJECT Living, Coming of Age, Parenthood, Activities, Sports & Outdoor Activities, Nature, Animals

POET’S REGION U.S., Northwestern

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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