River Teeth Journal Issue 19.1

October 3, 2017

River Teeth Journal Issue 19.1
Table of Contents 

Editor's Notes Joe Mackall

Remembering Brian Doyle and Nancy Mairs

…If you read Nancy Mairs, you too “see behind all the veils.” She was not a woman or a writer to shy away from reality. I was about to write that her fearlessness made her great, but really, her fearlessness made her Nancy Mairs. We admired her greatly, and we’ll miss her terribly.

And it’s in deep grief that I write about the death of our friend Brian Doyle in May at age sixty. Too damn young. We were fortunate to publish Brian twice, and we would have published him in every single issue. Nobody wrote like Brian Doyle. Nobody. His prose was always beautiful; sometimes it was downright giddy. His words fluttered madly along the page; his prose took flight. Read more.

"The Best Fried Chicken" Ann Hood

Fried Chicken

But I want to keep my bowl full of these images, these soft lovely memories. I want to keep the taste of that fried chicken on my tongue. Not just the fried chicken at that roadside picnic in the Blue Ridge Mountains, but years of it: hot from the silver fryolator in a bright yellow bowl, cold in the backyard on a summer day, all-you-can-eat at a chicken place in Indiana with all of my Indiana cousins and aunts and uncles. When I drove to Florida every spring break during college, my mother fried up chicken for us to snack on during the long drive.

"Tall, Straight Sisters" Jessica Lind Peterson


We came here to these Northwoods, these winding groves of birch and poplar, because we had to. This is where we met and fell in love: here in this friendly cold, here in this earthy smell, where we first saw each other and loved each other, under this wide net of glistening branches. Fifteen years ago we made love here and made plans here; the gnarled roots of these very trees dug into our backs, the sharp grass leaving a happy rash across my thighs. But we are not happy now, and today is not for making love. We have run here, the two of us, to these well-known trees, desperate for the healing they might bring.

"Fire One, Fire Two" Ana Maria Spagna


For years, I’ve carried dual memories into new situations: book readings, new jobs, even dinner parties. Anticipation borders on dread. The last moments before approaching the podium or ringing the doorbell, hors d’oeuvres in hand, I find myself thinking: Will it be like the first time at camp or the second? Everything right—magic even—or everything wrong?

"The 'N-Word'" Ted Gup


But it was not only the trauma of the day that weighed upon me but the lingering feeling—irrational and unfounded, I told myself—that I, by my curse, had somehow brought this upon them all, had unleashed some demon. The utter absurdity of the thought did not dispose of it. For thirty-nine years, neither Christy nor I spoke of that day. Decades later I shared it with my wife, but could not—or would not—explain why it had become so formidable a memory.

"Daughter of a Gun" Sarah Curtis Graziano


My Texan grandparents were poor, and though I didn’t inherit much, I did inherit these stories. They are spoken heirlooms, subjective truths hammered out in living rooms after Sunday suppers, one brother’s feelings and observations fused with the thing his sister overheard—memory as alchemy, or sculptures chiseled over time to form the contours of my family’s reality.

"Women Who Cry" Amy Peterson


Three times a week, all of campus gathers for chapel. I stand in the back, unconvinced by the joyful resolve of the songs and also sometimes crying. Why are these songs so calm and triumphal, so stuck on one note, so relentlessly optimistic? Is everybody always obligated either to be happy or to be silent?

"Anchorage, Alaska" Nicholas Dighiera


I grab my phone from the table and check the messages.

Ashley: We are having breakfast at Snow City if you want to join.

I type: I just woke up and I’ll be there shortly.

Then I get up, change shirts, pee in the gutter, get in the driver’s seat, and fire up the van.

This is what you do when your ex-wife offers to have breakfast with you and your children for the first time since you pushed her away. For the first time since you stopped being a family.

“In Tongues" Cecele Kraus


As we entered small churches or large auditoriums, mysterious sounds greeted us as people prayed to God. Like fires combusting in barren deserts, tongues lit up bleak landscapes. Needs flared in unintelligible words. Healers offered cessation of pain. I joined Mother in believing healing could bring normalcy to Anna. God would intervene.

"Cave of the Iron Door" Joan Frank


The surface couldn’t have looked simpler. A brief getaway, some extra warmth at a chilly time of year. On the face of it, so natural. A visit to your old hometown—your first hometown, pays natale, place of birth, original setting for those big-bang memories. People smiled and nodded when you told them. Wholesome as a July 4th picnic.

Yet I remember my heart squeezing as the plane touched asphalt, white sun deceptively mild through the air-conditioned cabin’s window. Out that window: purple-brown desert hills, landscape of childhood. Was it January?


"Romancing the Bird" Marilyn Moriarty


“Put your hand behind her feet,” Craig instructed as I went to pick up Peewee, a peregrine-prairie falcon hybrid. She was walking around the ground in his yard. Peewee was still small, with feathers coming in like the tips of paintbrushes. “Like this,” Craig said. He put his hand down behind her legs, and she stepped back onto his wrist.

"Boom" Anne Barngrover

I lie in bed, unable to move. I have felt this way before when a man has made me feel small, when he has threatened me, laughed at me, ranked my body, humiliated me, touched me without my consent, and overpowered me. I have cried myself to sleep in bed beside him, quiet enough that he won’t hear.

"Epiphany" Mary Haug

 Night Car

I ran down the sidewalk, up three flights of steps to my room, slammed the door, and fumbled to turn the deadbolt. I curled up in the corner of the closet, trembling at the thought of what might have happened, and with shame that I was a girl who drank beer at parties; who slid into a car with a man she’d just met; a girl worth nothing more to a boy than a notch on his belt; just something to be subdued and conquered.

Contributors' Notes More about this issue's authors.
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