River Teeth Journal Issue 18.1
|Table of Contents||Headwaters|
At the end of the academic year, when students start to lose it over grade pressure and work load, and I begin to wear down and wonder how much longer I can read thousands of pages of student work, I do what every burned-out writing teaching would do—I read.
Buck worked alone all summer on the skiff.
At the meadow’s edge the pines sway, the two of them tall and thin.
|"Don't Turn Away"|
Last autumn, as a way of passing the time on my commute, I spent a week or so listening to an audiobook of Albert Camus’s The Plague. Early September had been A Room With a View, and prior to that For Whom The Bell Tolls. Those dark mornings and late afternoons placed me in a heavy, incense-sweet, tragically beautiful haze, one that fit in nicely with the falling leaves and thick sweaters and general rotundity of the season.
|"Five Autobiographical Fragments, or She May Have Been a Witch"|
I was playing outside my house in Brooklyn on a summer day, under the big oak tree that seemed to symbolize time: it must have been there forever and it must be there forever; it was so old and impossibly rooted, so fixed. A very old woman walked past me, and looked at me with what I thought was evil power, the power to hold me or hurt me. She was dressed in tatters, hunched, stock figured for nursery-rhyme caricature for a little boy, or some little boys. To other little boys she was probably the woman next door, or Aunt Agnes. Of course, she may have been a witch.
| "Haul Road Stories"|
The James W. Dalton Highway stretches 414 miles north from Fairbanks to Prudhoe Bay—that is, 414 miles across the Arctic and beyond the reach of civilization in Alaska. When my boyfriend Mike and I quit our summer jobs on the Kenai Peninsula with a fishing outfitter, we wanted to be beyond reach. We were tired of earning less than minimum wage and even more tired of the summer tourism season in south central Alaska: thousands of trailers lined bumper to bumper on the Sterling Highway, the passengers snapping pictures from their windows of rivers and mountains. It wasn’t the Alaska I wanted to show Mike while we were still twenty-six and untethered. So we set forth, in June of 2007, to find out if frontiers still existed.
"Eating the Dead: A Guided Tour"
Before we begin, we watch a short video.
|"We Are Not Our Bones" |
To this day, I still don’t know what kind of skull it is. There are people I could ask, but I’m not really interested in knowing. It has a long nose like a horse, but it’s not big enough. It has the flat head of a deer or elk but no antlers or holes where antlers should have been. The bottom jaw is missing, so it’s frozen in a constant sun-bleached snarl. The brain case on the back is a bulb that swoops to where the brain stem must’ve been, though I’m no biologist. Nor am I an archeologist. I found it by accident. I took it home on purpose.
|“Cycling the Mojave"|
There were times when I would talk to my bicycle or the sky. Usually, it was just a greeting or an observation. “Hello, moon,” I would say on its appearance, or, “That was a good ride, wasn’t it?” to my bicycle leaning into a bush. And whenever I spoke, my voice would startle me with its intrusiveness, and the words jarred like a casual profanity.
|My husband and I have seen too much grimness lately, managing our parents’ care. Long corridors, steam trays, wheelchairs. To escape Michigan’s bitter winter and the bite of age, we drive to Florida for the month of February. We’re trying out a retirement mobile-home community.|
|"OnIntla: Snow that has Drifted Indoors"|
|I can’t get past it. The word intla is supposedly one of the fifty, or even a hundred, of the words the Inuit of the Arctic use for snow. I recited them once to my mother, ill and sad on the eve of a winter solstice. How we marveled at the beauty of these words, their corporeality, the very fleshiness of snow we said we could feel again against our tongues—those far Ohio snows, winters with my father and brother and sister, how young we all were, the blades of our skates scouring the dark ice of our winter pond as we made great loops again and again beneath the gray world, snow in the air glittering, in our hair glittering: klin—remembered snow; naklin—forgotten snow; snow that blinds you —krotla.|
|"Because We Are Born Again"|
Women gossip over the body, makeup caked on their faces, thick as the wax on the corpse in front of them. The men smoke outside and grumble to the swish of passing cars. In the small town of Williamsburg, Kentucky, where my father’s from, the Republicans are shown at Croley’s; the Democrats at Ellison’s.
|"Today Is a Miracle"|
Rachel Graham Cody
The day of the accident, we woke late. We ate breakfast outside, sitting in grass already warm from the sun. The air smelled of lavender, eucalyptus, and the pale pink roses blooming beside us. We changed directly from pajamas into swimsuits: rainbow stripes for Charlotte, multi-colored polka dots for Eve, a navy one-piece for me, and a waterproof diaper for Daisy. We were at the tail end of a week’s visit to my mother-in-law’s. My husband, Tom, had gone to a meeting, his mother to work. The girls and I had no obligations but to enjoy each other and the day. Jane had turned on the pool heater, and when we slipped in, the water seemed to mirror the sky: turquoise, flawless, embracing.
|"How Long Before You Go Dry"|
When I’m whipped awake, stripped from my dreaming, it is deep in the blackest humming of the Texas night. Wide-eyed, I blink around at the strangeness of being suddenly awake—the scream I heard in my dream echoing distantly inside me. It’s 2:11 a.m. I’m wonderfully tangled around my wife in our bed—starfishing her slumbering body—one leg arrowing out of the sheets so I don’t overheat. Ariane a mummy under the blankets, motionless. Catface asleep on her feet. A second passes and then from his bedroom, I hear my sleeping boy shriek. It is a still-dreaming squawk—one that shatters the dark.