The Fourth River

Tributaries: “Crossing Borders”

By on May 17, 2017

By Aileen Bassis


Walking on roads and rubble, gravel
and grass, pavement and black-top.
We know our past.
We don’t know what waits.

Grass and pavement, black-top
hillsides and grasslands, desert and dirt,
we don’t know what waits —
our lips are silent as we journey

through hillsides grasslands, desert and dirt,
through clutches of branches and bracken.
our lips are silenced in our journey.
Night runs a rough tongue

through a clutch of branches and bracken.
We enter a lap of rivers
running night’s rough tongue.
Remember, sweet — taste of milk.

Enter a lap of rivers
like cracked shells, words, thoughts tumble:
Remember. Taste sweet milk.
Pressed between riven rock, a sea breaks

like cracked shells our words, thoughts tumble
keening of roads, highways, fences split.
Pressed between rock and broken sea
we float. Tide-gripped waters

keen of roads, highways, fences ripped
and we fall into uneasy sleep,
and float in tide-gripped waters
to lie stranded on a shallow bank

where we fall into uneasy sleep,
drifting like oil’s black pour,
lying stranded on a shallow bank
and on we walk: roads and rubble,
gravel and grass.



Aileen Bassis is a visual artist in Jersey City working in book arts, printmaking, photography and installation. Her art can be viewed at Her use of text in art led her to explore another creative life as a poet. Her poems have appeared in B o d y Literature, Spillway, Grey Sparrow Journal, Canary, Amoskeag, Stone Canoe, The Pinch Journal and others.