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The Sun Magazine

Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Home From The War

I am waiting to turn left at an intersection. A driver cuts me off, we make eye contact, and I am caught in the endless loop of a memory I thought I had left behind eight years ago in Afghanistan. I begin to feel panicked.

Books: Back From The Dead And Goofy As Ever

Characters in the novels of Anne Tyler are imprisoned by people, places, things, by the whole fabric of their past lives, but they dream — some of them — of escaping. Their means of escape is through other people. They envision in the other a life more like the one they want to lead, and their decisions to change are sudden. (The sudden decision to marry is becoming an Anne Tyler trademark). What they discover is that they escape only into themselves, that they have woven the fabric of their lives out of their own personalities and will proceed to weave it again. Our lives don’t have some separate existence; we are our lives. Thus, in Earthly Possessions a woman who longs to escape the household where she is a kind of mother hen is rescued by a convict who takes her hostage in a bank holdup, but soon enough she finds herself taking care of him as a mother would.

Doing What I Do: Writing Poetry

I have been writing poetry, or trying to write poetry, half of my life. The day I was graduated from high school an acquaintance reminded me of an early attempt written in the seventh grade: “if I were a starfish/I’d make a wish.” How concise and simple that poem is!

The Salt Seas Of The Heart

A Tribute To Brian Doyle

You believed that everything is a form of prayer, including laughter, including tears. Yes, you were a reverential man, but you weren’t stiff or boring or preachy or dour. Your essays were both concise — often just a page in length — and lush, your sentences as intricate and twisty as plants in a terrarium. You combined prose and poem (and prayer, you said) to bear witness to the miracles around us.

Inventory

On Reading The Papers Of Richard M. Stites, Esq., At The Georgia Historical Society In Savannah

I spread out your charts, your ledgers, your bug-eaten accounts, the ones cataloged and filed in acid-free folders. The room where I sit, Mr. Stites, is not far from the room where you yourself must have sat, sweat-stained, surrounded by your law books, sleeves rolled up, face sopping wet, bent over your volumes. Adding, subtracting, calculating, measuring, devising. Not far from where your slaves stood in pens waiting to be sold.

Auntie Barba

When God wants to give you a wake-up call, She will make sure that you get the fortune saying Things are seldom what they seem, or Listen to the whispers or you’ll hear the screams.

Auntie Barba

Dear Auntie Barba, What kinds of questions does Saint Peter ask at the Pearly Gates? Gert…