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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

American Life in Poetry: ‘In Possession (Minnesota)’ by Roy Scheele

By Ted Kooser U.S. poet laureate, 2004-06

Roy Scheele, one of Nebraska’s finest poets, has a new chapbook called “The Sledders: Thirty Sonnets,” from Three Sheets Press. One of any writer’s most valuable tools is memory, and this poem shows it being put to work to breathe life into an afternoon from long ago.

In Possession (Minnesota)

Something almost Flemish about that water,

a golden brown but clear into its depths,

the plank-ends of the dock a fading gray

beside it, and a boat moored at the end;

something, it seems to me in looking back,

about a murky bullhead on a stringer,

one of those rope ones you can hardly see,

so that the fish appeared to scull in place;

something (the details start to widen now)

about white wooden clapboards on the side

of that inn or tavern where my dad had stopped,

a neon beer sign staring out through glass—

late in the afternoon, I drinking deep

of everything I saw, now mine to keep.

Poem copyright 2016 by Roy Scheele from “The Sledders: Thirty Sonnets” (Three Sheets Press, 2016) and reprinted by permission of the author and publisher. American Life in Poetry is supported by the Poetry Foundation and the English department at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. We do not accept unsolicited submissions.