As my son watches the fish thwack against the side of the spackle bucket, I search my tool
box for needle-nose pliers: A Phillips-head, an orange box cutter, razorblades packed in
cardboard, and a broken measuring tape pile like ancient monument stones on the dock.
Gills bleeding heavily, the crappie lifts easily from the bucket. It has swallowed the hook.
I show my son, beware the fierce, sharp fin. We have lots more hooks. But does the hook
hurt the fish’s throat? he asks as we release it into the dark water. Struggling up the steep
bank, my son snaps off milkweed stems. The banked willow tree hasn’t an answer. I hold
onto roots and dirt with my lying, stinking hands.