Brenda Miller | The Sun Magazine

Brenda Miller


Brenda Miller lives in Bellingham, Washington, where she teaches at Western Washington University, dotes on her puppy, sings, and occasionally writes books. Her latest essay collections are Telephone: Essays in Two Voices, which she wrote with Julie Marie Wade, and A Braided Heart: Essays on Writing and Form.

— From June 2023
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Care Warning

Take care of yourself during this essay, whatever that means for you. Perhaps you need to drink a lot of water or unwrap a snack (quietly please!) or play Angry Birds on your phone — whatever works to tamp down your discomfort.

June 2023
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

The Wayward Daughter

I’m at my father’s bedside, his hand resting in mine. His skin feels thin, but his nails grow thick and long, creeping a half inch beyond the rounded flesh. They’re the only part of him that seems healthy. How can the nails keep growing like this when his heart pumps barely enough blood to keep him alive?

October 2017
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

We Regret To Inform You

Dear Young Artist:
Thank you for your attempt to draw a tree. We appreciate your efforts, especially the way you sat patiently on the sidewalk, gazing at that tree for an hour before setting pen to paper, and the many quick strokes of charcoal you executed with enthusiasm. But your smudges look nothing like a tree.

November 2013
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Be More

I’m sorry I gave it away, that nightstand you made for me so many years ago. Well, you didn’t really make it; you revised it. You found the battered table at a garage sale, saw its potential (its “good bones,” as you often said of imperfect things), and somehow — in secret, in the basement — sanded down the wood, puttied every hole, fixed the drawer, and added a shim to make it level.

June 2013
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

The Burden Of Bearing Fruit

Everyone who came over said of the cherry, “Great tree,” especially in July, when its fruit started to ripen. The squirrels and the birds took the lion’s share, mocking me by dropping half-eaten cherries on the patio and the lawn. I ate only the ones I could reach simply by pulling down a branch and plucking. I’d had Rainier cherries from the store, but these fruits were a surprise: the flesh so sweet and yet so complex; the firm skin giving way to the textured meat beneath; almost like a golden plum, but small and round and mine.

January 2011
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Blessing Of The Animals

Sheba is just the right height for a toddler to pat her on the head with a fist, or walk under the archway of those enormous legs. Eventually the girl will haul herself onto Sheba’s back and squeal, “Giddyap!” and the dog will comply, moving slowly, swaying like a camel.

November 2007
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Infant Ward

This child is not my own, but still the words of possession slip from me: “My baby girl. My sweet baby.” Although I’ve never seen her before, I think I know what she needs: the lights at her hospital bedside dimmed, her loose arms girdled securely against her chest. She has no name except “Girl” and a family surname typed on the identification card at the foot of her crib.

November 1999
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

The Date

A man I like is coming for dinner tonight. This means I don’t sleep very much, and I wake disoriented in the half light of dawn, wondering where I am. I look at my naked body stretched diagonally across the bed; I look at the untouched breasts, the white belly, and I wonder. I don’t know if this man will ever touch me, but I wonder.

April 1998
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