Two Pieces
creative nonfiction by Rachael Peckham


The gilt was in heat but I didn’t know it until I felt something warm and wet
on my leg as I entered the show ring and shit it would’ve been better had it
been brown like my first blood at thirteen, not red red red on the thigh of my
new jeans styled with the yoke in front, one big V pointing you know where
and it doesn’t matter that I stayed a big V into my early twenties—this was
Showmanship circa 1993 and these jeans, they hugged my ass tighter than
the French braid making my head ache. I was on top of my game, is what I’m
saying, right until I looked down at where I’d pressed my knee into my pig’s
V, before a crowd of my peers and their parents and their parents’ parents all
looking at this blood, it isn’t mine, but it doesn’t matter when you’re showing.


Grandpa said that boy's going to end up in prison or a millionaire 

after my little cousin Paul took a match to some paper, burning down his 

piano teacher’s bathroom, and after his mom took him by the hand to 

apologize to every aunt, uncle, and cousin, all of us gathered at Thanksgiving 

that year and how, after each repeated apology, I began to understand that 

few things sear the brain worse than shame, but man it works—to Paul’s 

dad’s relief, I’m sure, remembering his own grief, his own shame, when one 

of his sow barns caught fire and the screams traveled for miles, and Lord, it 

hurts too much to think about, let alone say I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry 

but I do wonder if Paul feels more like one or the other now that he’s ended 

up farming with his dad, and anyway, my cousin never played with fire again. 

Rachael Peckham
is the author of Alight: Flights of Prose (UnCollected Press 2022) and the chapbook Muck Fire: Prose Poems (Spring Garden Press 2011), winner of the Robert Watson Poetry Award. Rachael’s articles, essays, and poems have received several awards and distinctions, including two honorable mentions in the Best American Essays series, the ½ K Prize at Indiana Review, the Orison Anthology Nonfiction Award, and the Special Feature Literary Nonfiction Award at Crab Orchard Review. Rachael is a full professor of English and Distinguished John Deaver Drinko Fellow at Marshall University, where she’s taught since 2009.