The Fourth River

A journal of nature and place-based writing, published by Chatham University's MFA in Creative Writing Programs

Tributaries: “We are the Ocean”

By on September 20, 2017

By Urvashi Bahuguna


A whale fall is the carcass of a whale that has fallen to the ocean floor,
& that sometimes creates complex, localized ecosystems supporting deep sea life.​


We have learned to hold the drift ​
in our jaws, seaweed ​breathing

from a blowhole. We are the ocean
trying one​ hand at perpetuity.

Though we feel them reaching for
the place, ​flashlights rarely locate us,

a slight warmness percolating after
the fact. We have made a shelter

out of a shape. The men low
on oxygen swim down and marvel

at a sleeper shark exiting
a chest. We are reminded of a story:

a ship after a pod of minke whales,
driving them close, too close to

​shore. The men don’t resist running hands
along tails that have lost a sharpness.

​A​ squat lobster just startled them. We worry
they will not stay afraid very long.



Urvashi Bahuguna is a poet from India whose work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Nervous Breakdown, Barely South Review, Kitaab, Jaggery, The Four Quarters Magazine and elsewhere. She was recently shortlisted for the Beverly Prize and the Windword Poetry Prize. She has a poetry pamphlet forthcoming from Eyewear Books (UK). She is currently a Writer-in-Residence at PartlyPurple, Bangalore (India).



Tributaries: “Practical Augury”

By on September 13, 2017

By Carrie Laben   It’s one of the most laid-back forms of fortune telling. No special potions or smokes required, no messy entrails, no cards to shuffle and no tea cups to rinse. Just tip your head back and look


Tributaries: “The Snapping Turtle”

By on September 6, 2017

By Karen J. Weyant   The road near Benson Pond is always littered with roadkill. Twisted deer legs lie tangled in weeds, dead raccoons are knotted in cattails, and mounds of porcupine quills puncture the air. There’s matted fur and