The Fourth River

Tributaries: “Jesus Year”

By on October 5, 2016

 By Christopher Martin

I would’ve never believed that this age, here and now,
I’d be sitting in this rust-stained tub, soaking in vinegar
to relieve chigger bites speckling my legs, wounds
amassed the other night walking a meadow
along Allatoona Creek with my children.
Seeking barred owls and bats on a ranger-led hike,
we found none of the former, a few of the latter,
and plenty of what I never saw coming,
creatures inching along grass blades and weeds,
clinging to my leg hairs despite all precautions—
bug spray, tall socks, failed attempts
to not brush against the green, knowing
they were likely there, unseen. In my sleep,
they burrowed beneath my skin,
forced up the blisters that have led me here,
this day, to this acidic water, that have left me
worrying over all I did wrong on our walk,
over all I could’ve prevented, reflecting
on all I might take from this pain
for the next time we go.



Christopher Martin is author of This Gladdening Light: An Ecology of Fatherhood and Faith, which won the 2015 Will D. Campbell Award in Creative Nonfiction and will be published by Mercer University Press in July 2017. He is also author of the poetry chapbooks Marcescence, Everything Turns Away, and A Conference of Birds. Chris’s work has appeared in publications across the country and such anthologies as Hard Lines: Rough South Poetry (University of South Carolina Press), The World is Charged: Poetic Engagements with Gerard Manley Hopkins (Clemson University Press), among others. Chris teaches English at Kennesaw State University and creative nonfiction at the Appalachian Young Writer Workshop. []