Volume 17 Number 1

November 9, 2015

Volume 17 Number 1
Table of ContentsHeadwaters

Editors' Notes 
Joe Mackall

One day last spring my co-editor, Dan Lehman, and I were emailing back and forth—with me in Ohio and Dan in Taiwan—discussing River Teeth and a writer we were excited to be publishing in this issue. And then Dan said something that knocked me flat: “He reminds me of the late Charles Bowden.” I had not known about Chuck’s death until that second, and I still don’t know how I could have missed the news. Chuck Bowden died on August 30, 2014, at the age of sixty-nine. Too damn young. Too damn soon. Read More...

"As a Boy I Dreamed Often of a Tiger"

"Faithfully A Hidden Life"

Joe Wilkins

Rippling, immense, long back rubbing with liquid force against the doorway, it steps from the bathroom and turns down the hallway, padding—slowly and without sound—toward the room I share with my little brother. 

 - - - - - - - -

What matter that we spent nearly half our growing-up days at our grandparents’ house? That our grandparents’ house was as much home as home ever was? Even now, the wonders and silences of that house rustle and shift, flap their iridescent wings inside me. 

“Animals of the Suburbs"
Kerry Folan

After Emily buzzed her hair short, it became nearly impossible to tell whether she was a girl or a boy. Which was the point, I suppose. That, and irritating her mother.

Emily was sixteen, but she might easily have passed for thirteen. She stood just under five feet tall and her frame was slight. Though her family assumed that her petite build came from her Korean birth mother, no one knew for sure.  

"Jigsaw Puzzle"
Robert Long Foreman

We started with the edges, digging for them where they lay buried among other pieces in the big cardboard box that David had brought home for Christmas. We took turns sifting through pieces, until we started dividing them by color into big, ceramic bowls. 

"Going Back to Plum Island"
Jill Christman

The decision to return to the island began with the dreams. Ted was back, and this time he hadn’t come just for me. He was after my nine-year-old daughter Ella.

Part of me had always known this would happen.

 “Air and Water"
Karen Dietrich

My neighbor lives in a disposable house. These are his words, spoken to me over a chain-link fence one morning in May. I look over his angled shoulder to his small cottage—white with dark-green aluminum awnings—and imagine it packaged in plastic, hanging on a pegboard in a dimly lit hardware store, a sign above it announcing “Disposable Houses.”

"The Root of All Things"
Nathan Thornburgh

Halfway through our hour-long Skype call, Carlos Tanner warns me that he is going to “cross over.” He means that our conversation is about to leap from things that make sense in this world—how his new baby is sleeping, how many students are enrolling in his school—into things that only make sense if you are very deep in the world of ayahuasca, a world of spiritual warfare and healing, of bioluminescent trees with fabled powers, of songs that turn into snakes that turn into doctors that turn into smoke and drift back into the jungle.

Shannon Huffman Polson

I once slept with a 9 mm under my pillow.

The 9 mm Beretta was my assigned weapon, the one issued by the US Army. In the military, of the things branded into your consciousness, to never, ever be separated from your weapon is one of them. 

“Simple Laws of the Physical World"
Shanley Jacobs

In the days before Ellen and Viv, my girlfriends from childhood, my steadfast confidantes for the last twenty-five years, arrived for a four-day stay with me in San Francisco, I was reading for a research class about Stephen Hawking and black holes. 

"Detours of Intention: Lost and Found in the Holy Land"
Tom Fate
The first thing I noticed humming west through South Dakota on Interstate 90 was the thirty-foot high teepees made from cement pillars. I’d seen them before. They mark the public bathroom stops, but also remind you that you are now in “Indian Country.” A state planner somewhere probably thought they would trigger nostalgic visions of Sitting Bull or Crazy Horse in tourists on their way across this barren table of grassland to visit Mount Rushmore. 

Catalina Ouyang

No. 16: The orifice of his ear is dark and bitter. When I put my tongue into it I know I am tasting factory fumes, urine on the subway tracks, the dust mites on his pillow, the tongues of absent people. I swallow them all. 

"A Grave on the High Plains"
Stephen Benz

Wyoming is fertile ground for historical sites associated with the California and Oregon Trails. In the midst of a summer-long journey to retrace the old trails, I came upon one such site—the grave of a Gold Rush pioneer—just east of Glenrock. Located about two hundred yards off the latter-day interstate freeway that parallels long stretches of the trail, the gravesite proved to be yet another good place to pause and reflect upon the consequences of America’s westward expansion.

"London, When We"
Katherine Robb

When I broach the subject, my husband and I are tucked into the quilt of our home, a home that sits on a street lined with trees. One being the ginkgo biloba, a living fossil with its dichotomous venation, its male and female trees separated, like people’s memories when they stand face-to-face and look over each other’s shoulders. Outside, giggling children run up and down the sloping sidewalks for which San Francisco is a mantra.  

Contributors' Notes 


Keywords: 17-1
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