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The Sun Magazine

Essays, Memoirs, and True Stories

Reverence

I bow to the pencil, the pencil maker, the tree that gave its wood, the graphite that fills its core, and the mind that conceived pencil. I bow to all the teeth and jaws that have chewed pencils out of boredom or nervousness.

What Little She Had

It is one thing to be bad with money when you have it, and quite another to be bad with it when you don’t. My mother gave away what little she had, mostly because she had been taught that every poor person she met was the Lord in disguise, testing her love.

Tea Time

At 3 AM my eyes snap open. It’s been about fifteen hours since my last fix, and I’m already edging into withdrawal. With a sigh I get out of bed and head down to the basement to make a cup of tea from my store of opium poppies.

The Cure For Racism Is Cancer

This strange country of cancer, it turns out, is the true democracy — one more real than the nation that lies outside these walls and more authentic than the lofty statements of politicians; a democracy more incontrovertible than platitudes or aspiration.

In the country of cancer everyone is simultaneously a have and a have-not. In this land no citizens are protected by property, job description, prestige, and pretensions; they are not even protected by their prejudices. Neither money nor education, greed nor ambition, can alter the facts. You are all simply cancer citizens, bargaining for more life.

Maintenance Boy

I worked weekend nights and a couple of afternoon shifts during the week. Sometimes I requested more hours just to get away from home. Being away meant I didn’t have to deal with the sadness that lingered in our house.

Boy

When my brother was twelve, I found six mice nailed to the wall of the abandoned tree house in the woods near our apartment. He spent a lot of time there. It seemed to me the little mouse faces were frozen in agony. As though they’d been alive when he’d hammered the nails through them.

Invisible Symphony

The next two hours are the most precious I will ever spend with my father. He is alert and not visibly suffering. Though not a chatterbox, he converses with us all.

What I Heard

You do not have cramps. That’s invented by women who want attention. We don’t go in for that kind of malingering — that’s what it is. You have cramps because you eat too fast. You don’t chew.