tackle box 1
Grandpa’s Tackle Box
by Gary Grossman

The thickened air was cold as
permafrost as we picked through
87 years of accumulation,
sentimental trilobites wrapped in
the papery shale of lived years.

In a far corner, under an eave,
sat a tackle box, metallic green
mottled with rust, the colors of
duckweed trapped in the corner of
a pond full of brim.

Opened, the layered trays creaked—joints
almost as frozen as Grandpa’s
aged knees. The box was a small
galaxy of rusted hooks, bobbers,
plugs and needle nose pliers.

The tangle brought back his hours of
help with my middle school science
project, a model cell—Golgi bodies,
mitochondria, and the sticky
sounding endoplasmic reticulum.

An embalmed night crawler lays across
both a red-headed bass plug and a
leopard frog endowed with two trebles,
somehow having escaped our old tin
worm can. It crumbled at my touch.

My earliest memory, us walking back
from Uncle Jake’s pond. I didn’t
even reach four feet and he remarked
“The stringer’s heavy, let me carry it.
We had a good day, didn’t we?”

Originally published in Verse-Virtual, June 2022

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My Grandfather was born in Ukraine during the 1890s and immigrated to the U.S. in 1913. I doubt he had as many experiences as a child that I did growing up in the 1950s-60s, but he always encouraged my many interests, especially fishing and baseball. He passed in 1972.

Gary Grayling Chena

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Gary Grossman is retired Professor of Fisheries at University of Georgia. His poetry is published or forthcoming in 29 reviews, including: Verse-Virtual, Poetry Life and Times, Your Daily Poem, Poetica, Trouvaille Review, MacQueen’s Quinterly, Poetry Superhighway, Muddy River Poetry Review, The Knot, and Delta Poetry Review. His essays have appeared in Alaska Magazine and American Angler, and his short fiction has been featured in MacQueen’s Quinterly. For 10 years, he wrote the “Ask Dr. Trout” column for American Angler. Gary’s first book of poems, Lyrical Years, is forthcoming in 2023 from Kelsay Press. His hobbies include running, music, fishing, and gardening. Visit his website, garygrossman.net, and his blog, garydavidgrossman.medium.com.

PHOTO: Gary Grossman with an Arctic Grayling (Chena River, Alaska). Photo by Jason Neuswanger.