The Fourth River

Tributaries: “Cliffs”

By on September 9, 2016

by Cari Oleskewicz


We did not know which wanted him more: the wind or the water. But some force of nature claimed him and we watched in disbelief as the man in one moment was standing on the cliff, admiring the waves through the fog, with the grass brushing his ankles, and in the next moment was airborne and heading towards the sea. The rabid breakers were quick and we blinked at each other, open-mouthed and pointing.

Fifteen minutes earlier, my sister had fallen victim to similar elements. We stood whipped and salty, trying to breathe through the assault of sea spray and gusting currents. We hoped our friends and family would forgive our lack of photographs. We could not remove our trembling hands from the safety of their pockets. These LL Bean jackets were playthings in the wind. My sister had been shouting to us about how great this was and how we were feeling the breath of God upon us. And then she fell face-first onto the cold, slick stone. Her fingers blossomed into things of blue and purple and her chin became a piece of fruit that had moved beyond its ripening.

Ten minutes before that, a woman collecting our euros at the parking gate begged us to reconsider. She explained the Code Yellow situation. Not an evacuation, but a strong warning. Perilous conditions and danger. But we had driven for hours and this was the scheduled day for the Cliffs. So we zipped and wrapped and fastened hoods. We laughed and shivered and made fun and wondered what we would see.



Cari Oleskewicz is a writer based in Tampa. Her work has been published in a number of online and print publications, including Literary Orphans, The Collapsar, The Found Poetry Review, PITH, Blotterature Literary Magazine, and Sasee Magazine. She is currently at work on a collection of travel essays.


Rolling, burbling, churning along, tributaries lead us to the river. These winding origins are sometimes small, but often powerful. Tributaries refresh us, urge us forward, guide us through the trees. The Fourth River’s new weekly online publication, “Tributaries,” showcases the brief and the inspiring, that which sustains us and takes us through unexpected courses. Each week we will feature one piece on the home page of the web site.  Submit to Tributaries.