Blood Knot

by Suzanne Rogier Marshall


Emma Ashby
Reflections by Emma Ashby

Cleaning out the shed, I find my father’s tackle box,
tin painted dull green for camouflage, now a collage
of chipped paint, dents, blossoms of rust,
with pin-pricks of silver scratched on its surface.
I untie the frayed cord serving as hasp,
slip my hand through the metal handle – a perfect fit
for my father’s fingers, too large for mine – pry open
the lid, old hinges creaking along its spine,
and release the faint smell of canvas and fish,
the metal-against-metal scrape as my father slides
the box from beneath his seat at the canoe’s stern.
I feel the sting of a barb stuck deep in my gut,
and my hand trembles as I lift each piece:
the stringer – a jangle of metal clips chained together
holding the memory of trout; the lure my father called “Joe”
with yellow eyes and triple hook; filament coiled on spools;
True Value sack filled with snaps and swivels; bright bobbers;
a velvet-lined box cradling beads and tear-drop spinners,
hammered gold, linked to rusty hooks; and at the bottom,
a weight tied to the tag end of a blood knot – line joined to line,
he holds the ends in his teeth as he tightens the knot.
Tethered by fine filament, I feel the hook’s bite and the slow,
steady tug as my father reels me up through dark water.


The poet gratefully acknowledges the editors of Porkbelly Press for first publication of this poem in the chapbook Blood Knot, June 2015.

A former middle-school English teacher, Suzanne Rogier Marshall has published professional articles, poetry, and a book on teaching writing. Her poems have appeared recently or are forthcoming in The Tule Review, Written River, the Aurorean, contemporary haibun, and Freshwater as well as other journals. Suzanne’s first chapbook Blood Knot was released in June 2015. She has retired with her husband to the mountains of New Hampshire, where she draws inspiration for her writing.

Emma Ashby lives in Portsmouth New Hampshire where she works as an artist and encaustic instructor. Her work has been exhibited in multiple juried shows and commissioned for both private and public spaces. She was nominated for the 2011 and 2015 Seacoast “Spotlight Award” for her work, and won the “Best of Show” award in Gallery at 100 Market in August 2014. Emma has a Masters Degree from the Royal College of Art in London and worked for several years as a textile designer in the British Fashion Industry. She is a member of the New Hampshire Art Association and Surface Design Association.  Please visit her website at