Initial Sightings West of Modern Appalachia


I have begun obsessing over otherwise uninteresting things

like the shape of my own skull

the roundness of it


or the fact that it’s not entirely difficult to imagine

it removed and stuffed neatly

in the mailbox


slick white falling from the table

like china


in a word: Paleolithic


like the ancestral grain in the mud of this river

which feels so ridiculous

smeared on the skin


there is nothing here really, in a prehistoric sense


although I once watched a man fasten a fish head

to a fence post

and he smiled when he saw me

big glacier teeth


I’m reminded of these things each time I come here

but each time, still: I am

heel-sunk-in-earth


wondering if the signs we’re waiting on from God

are supposed to be this obvious


or if the soul is even bigger

than a fist

or a goose heart


maybe it’s a question unrelated

to this feeling that everything

I’ve memorized

could theoretically catch fire


and I’m the only one I know prepared

for collapse

for: wind; shock; bite; wreck; swallowed down a throat—


my father would tell a story of this man, Pistol Jack

who drove his tractor into a lake

zonked out of his mind


and it became a sort of family joke

about the dangers of

farm equipment


not to mention how incessant a day is

or how ideas can so easily lodge themselves in a brainstem


and hold there like stalks

the leaves catching rain


it’s as if the extent of one’s memory is the extent

of a ribcage

how it basket-wraps the torso

in fossil, like a moon


like the drip-leak of oil

puddling in sheen

or the sour-apple color of a hubcap filled with antifreeze


—this is how you kill racoons

—how they simply

can’t stand it

pink tongues lapping

the dirty pond water


and you watch them—running zigzags, like trees

you’ve chopped into


struggling off the porch

the way an old gate leans


before collapsing

in the brush, a multitude

of stars


their little bowl chests

their paws


 

BLAINE PRESCOTT holds an MFA in fiction from the University of Oregon and is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Houston. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Ninth Letter, Story, The Idaho Review, Shenandoah, and elsewhere. He is from Kentucky.