The Fourth River

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

Essay: “Something that Loves a Wall,” by Margot Anne Kelley

By on June 19, 2016

From The Fourth River, Issue 12


The boundary is that from which something
begins its essential unfolding. — Heidegger

Lengths of the rough, graying wood ring a small paddock that separates two lumbering, gentle horses from the rest of the world. On the rails, Kay points to at least half a dozen distinct colonies of lichen. She names them, the Latin tumbling effortlessly off her tongue—Cladonia cristatella and Cladonia pyxidata, Evernia prunastri, Usnea, Tuckermannopsis, Hypnogymnia phsyodes.

Kay writes the “biodiversity column” for the community newspaper, and has volunteered to teach me and Barbara a bit about lichen. Their proper names mean nothing to me yet, so I cling to their more common counterparts: “British soldiers” are tipped in brilliant red, “old man’s beard” dangles in a wispy, tangled mesh, “pixie cups” rise like tiny golf tees.

As I peer at the patch of Evernia, trying to come up with some trait that will help me give it a name that I can know it by, I hear Barbara telling Kay a mnemonic she learned as a child. “When Freddy Fungus met Alice Algae,” she recites, “they took a lichen to each other.” Read more…


Essay: “Interlude on Darkness,” by Gary L. McDowell

By on July 19, 2016

From The Fourth River, issue 12   Nighttime as elegy. Nighttime as constraint. Being in the state of. Nighttime’s alter-ego: the Jazz Man. Croon, baby. Croon. Darkness after light is universal. Or before. We recognize the world, the jaws, the


Book Review: Practicing the Truth, by Eller Akers

By on July 5, 2016

Reviewed by Alyse Richmond   Winner of the 2014 Autumn House Poetry Prize, 2015 winner of the San Francisco Book Festival Poetry Award, and winner of a 2015 IPPY (Independent Publisher) Book Award, Ellery Akers’ Practicing the Truth has undoubtedly


Health for the Earth; Health for Us All

By on June 25, 2016

By Athena Wintruba, assistant editor, The Fourth River   We’ve all heard about Zika virus by now: the illness, similar to yellow fever and West Nile virus transmitted by mosquitos. The virus typically results in fever, rash, and joint pain


Book Review: Down to the Dark River, Edited by Philip C. Kolin and Jack B. Bedell

By on June 20, 2016

  By Kim Hambright, assistant editor, The Fourth River   The Mississippi River proclaims itself to be “the Father of Rivers,” “the heart of remembrance,” “Mark Twain’s classroom,” “a hideaway for ballads,” and “the darkest place on earth” (Kolin). The