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In this poem, it seems as though the writer is talking both to the audience, as well as, through the main character who seems to be a grandfather, to the granddaughters "propped on each knee" as well as the child Malcolm, who is the one for whom the grandfather "invents" and to whom he speaks in a more diminutive tone, hence the italicized text.
The message of the poem, through these different points made, is quite interesting. The narrator thus begins with a pretty scientific description of the possum, from, as aforementioned an Encyclopedia, but, realizing that his audience is of varying ages, he adds interesting anecdotes. As his audience bored, the man narrating thus begin to speak of other subjects, yet reverts back to the possum quickly, in order to finish his ideas and states "You got to be careful / with a possum when he's on the ground; / he'll turn on his back and play dead / till you give up looking," and "Yessir, we enjoyed that possum. We ate him real slow, with sweet potatoes."
The poem, however, is not as simple as two intertwining stories told by a grandfather to his grandchildren, and one piece of evidence of this is the question posed at the end by the grandson. The author, in commentary suggests that this happened due to the fact that the grandfather is trying to tell "childish" stories but that the children really are interested in grown up stories, and in the truth; however, as the reader can see at the end of the poem, the grandfather has no interest in these more serious questions and keeps his story light-hearted, which mirrors the ideas that the author herself has had upon the subject, and her constant striving for "interesting" stories in her childhood.[footnoteRef:1] [1: Texts referenced: Roast Possum (poem) by Rita Dove. Retrieved October 13, 2011. Also please note I referenced the "LBJ Lecture" by Rita Dove (given March 10, 1998), also retrieved October 13, 2011.]