Issue 409 | The Sun Magazine

January 2010

Readers Write

Narrow Escapes

A noodle shop in central Burma, The Phil Donahue Show, the Tet Offensive

By Our Readers
The Dog-Eared Page

excerpted from
The Kill Hole

A change is required of us, a healing of the betrayed trust between humans and earth. Caretaking is the utmost spiritual and physical responsibility of our time, and perhaps that stewardship is finally our place in the web of life, our work, the solution to the mystery of what we are.

By Linda Hogan
Sy Safransky's Notebook

January 2010

I’m grateful for this clean sheet of paper. I’m grateful for my Pilot Precise V7 Rolling Ball pen. I’m grateful for the genius who invented the alphabet and for all the punctuation marks that come bundled with it at no extra cost.

By Sy Safransky


In New England they once thought blackbirds useless, and mischievous to the corn. They made efforts to destroy them. The consequence was, the blackbirds were diminished; but a kind of worm, which devoured their grass, and which the blackbirds used to feed on, increased prodigiously; then, finding their loss in grass much greater than their saving in corn, they wished again for their blackbirds.

Benjamin Franklin

The Sun Interview

The Good Earth?

Sandra Steingraber On How We’ve Made The Environment Dangerous To Our Health

Cancer is definitely not a random tragedy. If you look at a map of the U.S. and plot out the incidence of different sorts of cancers, you see patterns. Some cancers are more common in the Midwest and the Great Plains. Other cancers tend to cluster around certain industries. Those cancer maps are not proof, but they present a compelling hypothesis. If we see, over and over again, that bladder-cancer rates are higher in counties with leaking toxic-waste dumps — which is indeed the case — then that’s a clue. If we see leukemias and lymphomas are highest in areas of the Great Plains and the Midwest where herbicide use is highest, that’s a clue. It means “Dig here. Further inquiry required.”

By David Kupfer
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Two Days (Or, The Joys Of Being On Television)

I didn’t want to go, but my fiancée, Cora, insisted it would be good for me. She and I hadn’t been apart for more than a few hours at a time since I’d left the hospital, where my left arm had been removed after a car accident. Now I was to spend the weekend at a crippled-children’s camp.

By Louis E. Bourgeois
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

The Bird At The Window

My mother’s pet pigeon, Birdy-Bird, is sitting outside the kitchen window on the ledge, pecking on the glass: tick-TICK-tick, tick-TICK-tick, tick-TICK-tick. This is his way of communicating that he wants to be let in. Now.

By Laura Pritchett
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories


I met Laura for the first time at the Department of Human Services. The police picked me up from the domestic-violence-intervention agency where I was working and brought me to the squat cinder-block DHS building. Rain poured steadily from the gutters onto the cracked concrete sidewalk.

By Megan Kruse

The Sweet And The Salt

My maman told me the story of the olden days, when the sun was a sweet orange in the sky. All the days, she said, were buttery, the rivers ran rich like melted coin, and the people were happy as often as not. My maman, she told me that when the Troubles came, even God in his house could not help us, and he squeezed down on that orange sun, but the juice that should have been sweet, when it met this world, it turned to salt; it filled the oceans, and it came out of the people’s eyes.

By Tatjana Soli

Scars And Scales

The moon casts a pearl-colored path, and I, ducking into shadows, carry a platter of beef roast, so raw I can smell the blood, to the edge of the backyard swimming pool. Already Dad has reached the shallow end, and my younger twin brothers, Michelangelo and Leonardo — my mother had a passion for art — are not far behind. I coo to them; their tails move from side to side in anticipation.

By Sarah Rakel Orton


What could the Bible mean / when it says no sparrow falls / without God’s notice?

By Bethany Reid

New Year

Icy rain and wind outside; inside, my back’s / To the bedraggled human shape asprawl / On the comfy corner sofa at the Starbucks

By Mark Smith-Soto

Selected Poems

from “An Encounter” | We met naked on the sun deck by the / clothing-optional hot springs, / and I saw the long scar / like a smile across his furred abdomen

By Alison Luterman