The Fourth River

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

Tributaries: “Arkansas Anoles”

By on July 19, 2017

By Stacy Pendergrast



Before Daddy left us
for New York, he told me
if I could catch one of
those lizards its tail
would snap off.

Those critters
ran up and down
our house all day,
their true skin color
the shade of mortar
that held the bricks
of our home together.

So easy for them
to change from puke-green
to dirt-brown. I found out
later they weren’t
real chameleons.

When I grew up I discovered
I wished for the same things
my father wanted: time to read,
someone to talk to in the night,
and just once, a dream car—
that black Camaro he gave me
after he balded its tires.

He’d said he moved away
so someday I’d know
how to leave.

I remember the cold,
wriggling tail in my hand
as I watched the rest
slip under the rocks.




Tributaries: “Mobius”

By on July 12, 2017

By Nat Froiland   Searing thighs stomp pedals towards radiating pavement, each pump another pressing decision. Not the reflex begun in Milwaukee’s morning rush, but a conscious twilight effort among anonymous county highways. The river races the wrong way, inviting


Tributaries: “Badgers Run”

By on July 5, 2017

By Andrea M. Jones   The three dark shapes ripple—not the fur so much as the bodies, undulating across the landscape like figments of a wave. I feel like I’m seeing the wind itself: a phenomenon usually visible only by