Issue 407 | The Sun Magazine

November 2009

Readers Write

Selling Out

Handwritten letters, instant mashed potatoes, an armed-forces recruiting office

By Our Readers
The Dog-Eared Page

The Question Holds The Lantern

The greatest friend of the soul is the unknown. Yet we are afraid of the unknown because it lies outside our vision and our control. We avoid it or quell it by filtering it through our protective barriers of domestication and control. The normal way never leads home.

By John O’Donohue


My doctor is nice; every time I see him, I’m ashamed of what I think of doctors in general.

Mignon McLaughlin

The Sun Interview

Who Will Heal The Healers?

Pamela Wible On What’s Missing From Healthcare Reform

I was extremely disheartened, because I felt I was destined to be a doctor, but I couldn’t sustain my enthusiasm on the assembly line; it was such a dehumanizing experience. I was tired of interrupting crying people to say, “Sorry, we’re out of time.” I wanted to be kind to patients, even if it meant a huge cut in my salary. Many doctors feel this way. I’ve met several female physicians who are ready to quit medicine and find other work.

By Jamie Passaro
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

The Curtain

The color of the hospital curtain dividing the room changes with the light. If our neighbor by the window keeps the blinds open, the cloth that divides the room is a sea green riddled with purple. If the neighbor likes it dim, the curtain becomes the mottled color of a bruise just before it heals. When we have no neighbor, we push the curtain back so we can see the view of the black-papered roof.

By Maria Hummel
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

They Dream By The River

It’s one in the afternoon, and I wake up in a brick apartment building in Niagara Falls, New York, birds cheeping into the straw and broken springs of my hangover. Claire, the pint-sized, frizzy-haired woman with the short leg who will run away with a truck driver in two weeks, is lying next to me, snoring softly.

By Poe Ballantine
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

The Monk, The Woodcarver, And The Sage

The Parisians are smoking hash again and playing guitar on the terrace. I decide it’s a good time to walk to the top of the hill, where a white temple perches among the pines. I’m feeling a bit lonely today, a bit lost on this subcontinent. I can’t even remember why I’ve come to India, but I know it wasn’t to eat hummus and pita and get high.

By Angela Long

An Otter’s Tale

In retrospect I can see the appeal. The world according to Blick was a grimly serious place, as orderly and attractive as one of Pebbles’ mobiles; he dangled his international system of coat hangers and dental floss, and my sister gaped up at it like a dazzled kitten, batting at it from time to time with her little paw.

By Tim Farrington

Georgie’s Big Break

Georgie saw the notice on a listserv online: the upcoming citywide book festival, Lit Expedition, needed volunteers to introduce speakers. Perfect. It would be a perfect way for Georgie to keep her hand in during a long maternity leave.

By Monica Drake

My Father’s Torso

It first appears in the guest-bath mirror, / beheaded and one arm missing / due to the angle I have of him / getting ready for his appointment.

By Michael Chitwood

Indra’s Net

We mothers meet on the playground, sun-hungry, / kicking at scabs of ice, / shuffling and bumping tired sentences against each other, / all too broken by winter / to say how things really are.

By Adrie Kusserow

Fictional Characters

Do they ever want to escape? / Climb out of the curved white pages / and enter our world?

By Danusha Laméris

In The Third Century B.C.

I’m growing fatter at each winter’s coming. / My wineglass filling up again / As I sit behind the wall of my garden.

By Robert P. Cooke