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The Sun Magazine

Essays, Memoirs, and True Stories


This world you seem to live in is not home to you. And somewhere in your mind you know that this is true. A memory of home keeps haunting you, as if there were a place that called you to return, although you do not recognize the voice, nor what it is the voice reminds you of. Yet still you feel an alien here, from somewhere all unknown. . . .

Separate Vacations (Voyeurs In A Strange Land)

It is late March and you and I are on a train going from the middle of Costa Rica to the Caribbean coast. The ceiling is tin and the seats are old-fashioned, high-backed, and we have the special ones that face one another in the middle of each car. I am traveling east with you, whose idea this was, and Beverly, a woman we met in a little line of ocean-front cabinas a few days ago. She does something in national housing based in Washington and was in the Peace Corps in Nepal twenty-five years ago. A friend of hers planned this vacation for her; she learned the destination at the airport. Across from us are two people who speak Spanish. You call the woman the Oral Woman because as each vendor comes past, chanting his wares, she takes. She is not fat at all. Both she and her companion are Banana Republic chic: khaki or some other substantial material, light brown hair. They are reading Voltaire and García Márquez.

Scavenger’s Run

In Guangzhou, China, I once saw two men row through the muddy waters of the Pearl River to pick up floating leaves of cabbage. Now, a few years later, that’s what I do: make the scavenger’s run.

For Arlene

A good friend of mine died, of AIDS, a few months back. I went to her, in the hospital, the day before she passed. This was near Boston, in a suburb.


Rock Sitting

There were no obstacles in her path, on the ground or in the air. The briars were ferns beneath her feet, twisting gently out of the way at the first sound of her footfall. Rocks knew her, too. Lichen-covered, they lay quietly in wait, offering up stepping stones. They settled in just the right spot before she came. The trees bent their branches, making way, making room for her. They all knew her as well as she knew where the teaberries hid under silver-veined leaves, where the red toadstools sprouted among curling, open-faced roots, where the ground squirrel made its nest. She never brought others here. The trees and moss would not welcome anyone else.

Class Struggles In Sweet Cider

Somebody gives Gus a push from behind, probably one of the Dutton twins, the way they’re giggling and playing slap-ass, and suddenly Gus is out there in the middle of a nest of lights and cables and strangers. Microphones float toward him like giant sweat bees, and then the cameras move in. This woman steps from the pack and takes his arm like she’s steering him toward the center of a dance floor. She’s tall, with a lot of hair, and a dress that flashes points of light whenever she moves, which seems to be all the time, and these high heels a color that brings to mind certain body parts.


*NOTE: Original copies of this issue are no longer available. Unbound, laser-printed copies will be provided for print orders.

Readers Write


Saturday was one of those days at the shelter. I had been hoping as I walked there that it would be a peaceful day. It was the first of the month, when the women get their checks, and usually they feel better. It was not to be. I was late. I was the only volunteer, assisting two staff members. It was hot. Rita Lou was immediately in my face, rambling on, nonstop, saliva shooting through the gaps in her teeth. She is my nemesis there, the woman who challenges my compassion, teaches me acceptance by fire, shows me the chasm that separates me from sainthood.

Personal Stories By Our Readers ▸


From infancy I was surrounded by music. . . . To hear my father play the piano was an ecstacy for me. When I was two or three, I would sit on the floor beside him as he played, and I would press my head against the piano in order to absorb the sound more completely. . . . When I was eleven years old, I heard the cello played for the first time. . . . When the first composition ended, I told my father, “Father, that is the most wonderful instrument I have ever heard. That is what I want to play.“

Pablo Casals
Joys And Sorrows

More Quotations ▸
We’re Counting on You

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