Issue 262 | The Sun Magazine

October 1997

Readers Write


Indian names, the McCarthy hearings, cigars

By Our Readers
Sy Safransky's Notebook

October 1997

Let’s respect the heroes who live far from public sight: behind a battered desk in a legal-aid office; on a meditation cushion; in the kitchen at three in the morning, rocking a child who can’t sleep.

By Sy Safransky


It’s never been my experience that men part with life any more readily at eighty than they do at eighteen.

Anthony Gilbert

Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories


We hold our support-group meetings in a room with Oriental carpets and deep green easy chairs. I arrive a few minutes early to set out chips, cookies, a foil tray full of fried-chicken dinners, and a liter bottle of Coke. Food is a big draw. One by one, they drift in.

By Alison Luterman
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Grave Matters

Two weeks ago I turned forty-six. Four lovers and numerous friends and family have so far died before me. By most estimates I am closer to my death than to my birth.

By Andrew Ramer
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

For Lulu, With Love

She is pushed in through the door of the rural Mississippi clinic where I work. Behind her is movement, the rise and fall of slurred voices. Then a cluster of people crowd in behind her. But Lulu stands where she was pushed. She looks at me. I look at her, but not for long.

By Sybil Smith
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories


I was not home the day my grandfather Nonno died, but my brothers were, and they told me how my father had received the news. It was a couple of weeks before Christmas, and my brothers, Johnny and Peter, were visiting my father at his law office.

By Marco Mascarin
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

The Polish Language

A faint murmur weaves its way through my dreams, like a radio turned down low. It’s my mother’s voice, but I can’t understand what she’s saying. Sometimes, in the moment just before I wake, I hear her more clearly — urgent, insistent, warning.

By Antonia Clark
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

A Friend In America

I held the secret letter deep in my raincoat pocket as I approached the hostel warden. “Excuse me,” I said, obviously American but at least polite. “Are you busy?”

By Gillian Kendall

Teeth, Death, My Friend Louise

I’m forty-one, but my nine-year-old son persists in thinking I’m only forty. He’s at that phase when children become obsessed with their parents’ mortality, and for him this takes the guise of frequent (incorrect) recitations of my age, my birth date, and how old I’ll be on my next birthday.

By Christine Japely

Hey Jude

Always before it had been of no consequence: someone else’s intensive care. It had meant nothing to her in her normal life that, all day and all night, through waxing and waning moons and in every season, a child balanced on the eggshell edge of life, and someone else simply waited.

By Valerie Schultz

Ending It All

i called my brother a fag / and he ended it all / at fifteen he was peeled from the shiny red snow / fully nude / with his dick in his hand

By Vanderbilt Glass

Dream Of The Common Life

I have had the most wonderful dream. / My neighbor is playing a flute in the back yard. / I don’t even like my neighbor. / You wouldn’t either if you knew him.

By Wayne Liebman

June 1954

I was conceived / in a shack by the sea, / its shingles bleached / and beaten nickel gray. / There were waves that day / washing over the foundations / of the old saltworks.

By Mary-Beth O’Shea-Noonan

Carl’s Department Store Bathroom

was on the third floor up, past slipcovers and tablecloths. There was even an / elevator girl in a black-and-white uniform who listed each floor’s contents, / Ladies’ apparel, china, silver plate, until almost halfway into the nineties, / when Carl’s, the last of three department stores downtown, took down its last Christmas / window, outlasting my mother, who near the end was no longer able to tear through / dress racks for bargains, and sat thinly on a chair

By Lyn Lifshin


Like the time I was in fourth grade and my hair / reached all the way down to my butt and my mother / said, “Let’s get a trim,” and my cousin Kathy cut / my hair all the way up to my chin, and when my / friend Carol laughed at my “cut” I said it was a / “trim” and she shut up.

By Leslie Shiel