Issue 418 | The Sun Magazine

October 2010

Readers Write

Slowing Down

The Mona Lisa, a spinet piano, lost luggage

By Our Readers
The Dog-Eared Page

Simply Becoming Aware

That you are, my friend, you know well. Your experience every moment reminds you of it. Simply find out who you are, find out what it is in you that does not depend on the changing circumstances of your bodily or mental existence, that kernel of your consciousness which, in the last analysis, cannot be identified with any of the external circumstances in which you find yourself.

By Abhishiktānanda
Sy Safransky's Notebook

October 2010

My cat Nimbus is sick. Oil is fouling the Gulf of Mexico. The veterinarian, who makes house calls, will arrive soon in his twenty-four-foot-long animal hospital on wheels. I wonder how many miles to the gallon it gets. But with my cat’s well-being at stake, do I really care?

By Sy Safransky


We are traveling with tremendous speed toward a star in the Milky Way. A great repose is visible on the face of the Earth. My heart’s a little fast. Otherwise everything’s fine.

Bertolt Brecht

The Sun Interview

Farmed Out

Wes Jackson On The Need To Reinvent Agriculture

We must turn our attention to the water and the soil and ask, “How do we insure that the bread we eat does not come from grains that are grown in eroding soil and that load our water with nitrogen and pesticides?” Soon people will realize that annuals are poor managers of soil nutrients and water, and that agriculture will need to turn to perennials to better manage those resources.

By Fred Bahnson
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Four Beds

I turn off the lamp and ease myself into the hand’s-breadth space between Rob and the wall. In the dark he places my fingers on the supple frets of his ribs, showing me simple chord changes. He murmurs throaty Gaelic into my ear, and I rub his stomach as if he were a sleepy child. We fold against each other like the pages of a letter.

By Rochelle Smith
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

The Primitive Tongue Of A Lesser Species

There’s nothing like an old dog to remind a man of his own decline. Just a few short years ago Jake and I used to take daily five-mile jogs together, but now we’ve both got arthritis — his in the hips, mine in the knee — and we’ve had to give them up. Instead we take long walks through the woods near our house.

By Al Neipris
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

The Best Part

At my former father-in-law’s funeral in November, I walked up to my ex-husband Billy and kissed him. It was our fifth kiss in thirty years: one when we finalized our divorce, one at his mother’s funeral, one at our son’s wedding, one at the birth of our twin grandchildren four months before, and now this kiss, with its hint of grief. I still loved his parents. And I had loved him once.

By Elizabeth Tibbetts

Telling Him

I wanted to ask how many Pall Malls he was smoking a day. Had he finally switched to filters? Instead I took a shaky breath and said, “I’m gay. I’ve always been gay. My boyfriend’s name is Steven, and we’ve been together for five years. I know you think being gay is a choice, but it isn’t. It isn’t a choice at all.”

By Craig Planting

The Stew

She began cooking the stew at 5:41 A.M. on Thursday. Somewhere in the night her husband had, as was his habit, moved to the middle of the bed, and she’d found herself precariously perched between his chest and the edge of the mattress, the inhabitant of an inconsequential strip of bedding that had, over the past few years, become her home.

By Manuel Martinez


He has been making inferences, figuring out what it is to be. He invents a language that expresses his awareness. His sentences are marvelously efficient, each one containing a whole chapter of his philosophy. “Aglaglagl” is one. He says it when the dog’s nose comes to visit the bassinet.

By Bruce Holland Rogers

In My Good Death

I will find myself waist deep in high summer grass. The humming / shock of the golden light. And I will hear them before I see / them and know right away who is bounding across the field to meet / me. All my good dogs will come then

By Dalia Shevin

Selected Poems

from “Carpe Diem in the Backyard” | Here we are, I say to my dog, / who inclines his boxy head / then lowers himself to the unmown grass, / pointed tawny leaves scattered in heaps.

By Ellen Bass