Rivers are potent symbols and also real and vital places—full of fish and mussels and microbes and runoff and dams. They are rich and complicated, and they connect us.

When we set out to create this issue, the four of us each shared a bit about the rivers and watersheds with whom we live in relationship. We emailed pictures, stories, and histories back and forth. We all came with unique and vivid relationships to rivers and hoped to create an issue of About Place that would capture some of the joy and grief and life these waters carry.

Reader, we’re so full of gratitude to be able to say that the works within this issue create a richer and more complicated understanding of rivers than we could have hoped. There are fiddles, kayaks, crocodiles, illnesses, births, and dandelion greens. Through science, lyric, speculation, translation, and history, the works carry us from the Mississippi to the Ganges to Sitka to the Amazon. There are an unexpected number of angels!

As the issue began to come together, we found certain themes emerging—of bodies, spirits, crossings, and signs. We have grouped the pieces not by genre, but through these categories, hoping that readers might look at the art and poetry and prose not alone, but as tributaries informing and deepening one another. Whether you dip your toes into a section, or immerse yourself fully in its waters, we hope you will see this issue as a flowing and meandering conversation.

Wherever you are, the waters we touch meet and complicate each other. Rivers center us. We hope this issue is a home where our stories can do the same.

–Laura-Gray Street, Teresa Dzieglewicz, Lucien Darjeun Meadows, Irene Vázquez