River Teeth Issue Preview 24.2

March 19, 2023

River Teeth Issue Preview 24.2


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Editor's Notes Joe Mackall

Deep into his first memoir, What I Think I Did, the late Larry Woiwode writes several sentences that define him as a writer, revealing his material, his process, his calling. “I write more daily pages than ever, all background, prelude to my brother’s visit, and then a phrase sends a scene wobbling up in focus: my grandmother, my mother’s mother, at a sink in her farmhouse.” Woiwode’s material, in nonfiction as well as fiction, burns with familial love and its endless complexities, the land we love on, and the people bearing our blood who have gone to glory or not.

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"On Seeing the First Image from the James Webb Space Telescope" Elizabeth Carls


What I understand with an unquestionable thoroughness of my whole stardust body is how small by way of comparison this moment is, how short even a lifetime is, how vastly expansive the view outside that window.

"Windblown" Jim Daniels

Since nobody changes anybody else’s minds these days—these stripes don’t bleed, right?—I won’t delve into the shark-infested political waters except to stick my toe in and say I believed in American democracy so much that I took it for granted. You can’t have too many/fly too many American flags anymore. You never know when you’ll have to stuff one in somebody’s mouth to silence them.

"Hammer Test" Renata Golden

We are not that different from frogs. We share a phenomenon known as apoptosis, where living cells cause their own death. All cells with a nucleus are capable of this kind of self-destruction; cells that were once essential become unnecessary. A frog loses its tail; a human female loses the lining of her uterus at the start of her menstruation every month. It is a tightly controlled process, programmed within the cell, that cannot be stopped or reversed once it is initiated. Life becomes possible only through death, even in a single individual cell.

"Made Holy" Michael Downs

You cannot tell her that, after sixty-some years, after cigarettes and litter boxes and hairballs, after decades of Orioles misery, after high blood pressure, her father’s death, her mother’s long and painful passing . . . after a life spent living with and loving that faithless wench Baltimore—Baltimore!—you cannot tell her that when she dies God won’t lift her to that better place where she’ll find her mother and father, young and healthy as they were when she was a girl eating egg-custard snowballs on the eastside.

"Washed Clean" Ann Leamon

In the harsh light of the two a.m. flashlight, Mom found two tiny figures, snuggled against the old ewe just as they should be.

"Church of the Goat Man" Kathleen Driskell


About twenty minutes earlier, the Goat Man had poured himself two fingers of bourbon, neat, into a small glass, and headed out to our front yard, which until recently was mostly a gravel parking lot for the church.

"Something About Shoes" Diane Gottlieb

I’d always avoided thrift shops. I never wanted used clothes. I feared absorbing a stranger’s energy. Maybe she was an anxious stranger, or angry, unkind, depressed. Maybe she was dead. I didn’t want to take that chance. Even after I’d laundered the clothing, some part of the past would remain in the weave.

“Keepaway" Sydney Lea


I look outdoors at the greening springtime field. There has always been so much available if I choose to see it, so much that I feel actual guilt at the sumptuousness all around me.

"The Texas Motel" Jill Talbot


I’ve never known how to navigate decisions, and instead of making the choice between one thing and another, I’ll take off—for an hour or a weekend or a year. Restlessness churns in me the way sand does when it’s disrupted in a river. The particles swirl, a murky cloud, but eventually the sand falls back into itself, stills. Nothing has ever stilled in me.

"Caspian Elegies" Layli Shirani


What passed between us in that moment as we held each other’s gaze? A litany of our losses. An uprising of grief. A knowledge that there is no such thing as a person’s “share” of sorrow. There can always be more.

"Rifle Seasons" Greg Bottoms

 I do not come from a family of hunters, a family who owns guns. I’ve never shot a real rifle and did not tell my mother that I might get to on this outing. Hard to sit still, but I do—except for the wiggling of my sneakered foot in the air.
"Her Broken English" Melissa Akie Wiley
 In the morning, she took the night’s soaked-rice pot to the backyard and dumped the loosened grains. Then she stretched her arms toward the sun. Her daily rejoicing ritual. To the wonderment of God.

 "The Birds Are Gone" Julia Purks

 I matched with a girl on Tinder and her name was Aven. I asked if her parents were bird people and she responded with, I don’t have parents, to which I promptly responded, Do you want to go on a date?
"Given Earth, Given Water" Claudia F. Saleeby Savage
I loved water. A raft, a kayak, on my back, eyes to the clouds. The moon shimmering. The sun winking on the cold, lush river. I looked at the screen and thought of when Lyons was my home, Bill on my deck, planning our next adventure, on land, on water, his body strong.
"Casting Lessons" Leslie Jill Patterson
 Every single rider and trainer at Eagle Hill, men and women—we’re the saddest bunch. Our history with cheaters, drunks, volatile tempers, summary dismissals, escapes. All of us know the truth about love, the ending to its story, but we like the fact that Egan doesn’t yet. The boy gives us hope.

Contributors' Notes

Photo Credits, Courtesy of Public Domain Sites:

Ann Leamon

NIRCam Image via webbtelescope.org

Unsplash: Marlon Torres, Karl-Heinz Müller, Rod Long, K. Mitch Hodge, Silvia Trigo, Alexander Schimmeck, whoisBenjamin, Claudia Soray, tengyart, Doan Tuan , Sarath C-M, USGS, Jack Charles

Keywords: issue 24.2
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