William Kelley Woolfitt teaches creative writing and literature at Lee University. He has worked as a summer camp counselor, bookseller, ballpark peanuts vendor, and teacher of computer literacy to senior citizens. His writings have appeared or are forthcoming in Cincinnati Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Ninth Letter, Shenandoah, Los Angeles Review, Sycamore Review, Southern Humanities Review, and Hayden’s Ferry Review. He goes walking on the Appalachian Trail or at his grandparents' farm in West Virginia whenever he can. 

Vanishing Lines

                                         My stock of provisions consisted of some biscuit and cheese; my gun, trunk, and great coat occupied one end of the boat; I had a small tin occasionally to bail her, and to take my beverage from the Ohio with; and bidding adieu to the smoky confines of Pitt, I launched into the stream, and soon winded away among the hills that everywhere enclose….            Alexander Wilson, 1810

The water is the same as yesterday’s,
as far as he can see.  The banks could be
the same wooded banks that rose up yesterday. 
No tin horn blaring from a Kentucky-boat. 
No sugar camp in the close foothills coughing up
rags of smoke.  No barking cries of big-horned owls
to jar his dreams.  Only this river, bewildering,
recurrent.  Streaming like the lines of his life—
rifle barrel, skiff’s planes, his body
when he floats on his back.  When he sights
down his torso, and through his toes.  All his lines
recede, recede, recede, he’s a vanishing point      

                                                     he’s pinprick    

                                                                             eggshell spot     

                                                                 snuffed wick

The water is the same as yesterday’s,
as far as he can see. When he laps the river
and swallows fast. Dunks his head, or dives down. 
When he tries to wash, to flush, to stave off. 
Here’s the giant head of a paddlefish he’s saved
for Mr. Peale.  The pottery shreds he numbers. 
The conch beads he bought from the farmer
whose speckled hogs ranged over an Indian grave
sixty feet high.  In his strongbox, the scalpel,
the white thread. The bird-skins whose feathers
he dresses with his fingers, re-sets and re-smoothes. 





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