The Fourth River

Tributaries: “The Smell of Rain”

By on February 22, 2017

By Diane Payne


The two babies, twin sisters, lie next to each other wearing matching pink satin robes and stocking caps. They were alive hours, maybe minutes, maybe not at all. The parents, my neighbors, dressed their daughters for this photo, this photo that is in the local newspapers, where the obituary reads: At least our girls never had to breathe polluted air. I walk past their house, piles of leaves burning throughout the neighborhood, and think of the babies lying next to each other in the hospital bassinet, never knowing the smell of rain.




Diane Payne’s most recent publications include: Map Literary Review, Watershed Review, Tishman Review, Whiskey Island, Kudzu House Quarterly, Superstition Review, Burrow Press, Dime Show Review, Lime Hawk, and Cheat River Review. She has work forthcoming in The Offing, Elke: A little Journal, Crab Fat, Souvenir Literary Journal, Outpost 19, and a chapbook with Blue Lyra Press.