Mary Jane Nealon | The Sun Magazine

Mary Jane Nealon


Mary Jane Nealon lives in Missoula, Montana, and has worked as a nurse and writer for forty-one years. Her dogs, Maisie and Cooper, like to listen to her read poetry, especially John Berryman’s. Her memoir, Beautiful Unbroken: One Nurse’s Life, was published in 2011 by Graywolf Press.

— From April 2018
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

One Flight Up

One can die in cleanliness, or one can die in filth. I’m not talking about your soul. At the Prince Hotel — an old Bowery flophouse — the men paid a few dollars a night to live in stalls, four feet wide and six feet deep, with chicken-wire ceilings.

April 2018
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

His Hands

A friend tells me, Back pain is always anger. I don’t believe him. Maybe, though, grief settles in the muscles there. That, I could believe.

February 2018
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

A Healing Touch

There are some things I take for granted: that when my car is serviced, the air in my tires will be checked; that when I buy free-range chicken, the bird was running happily in the grass right up to the moment the ax fell; and that when I go to my doctor with excruciating abdominal pain, she will, without prompting, examine my abdomen.

April 2016
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories


All day I fought the HIV virus, a bug that was taking men — or mostly men — from the world, and at night I found light-brown, circular bugs on my pillow. I never crushed them; I lifted them delicately into a trash bin.

January 2016
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Little Bird, Little Bird

There are four types of brick. I remember two of them: pavior and stock. Our row house was all brick with ledges near the roof, four stories up. Pigeons liked to make nests there, but it was stupid; the ledges were too shallow, and with the first strong gust of wind their nests blew down. Still, year after year, they did it. Optimists, those pigeons.

January 2013
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