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The Sun Magazine

Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Sara Elizabeth Safransky

Born Nov. 3, 1977, 1:45 A.M.

I went to the laundromat this morning, with a sackful of bloody sheets and towels: the banners of your passage, stained by your mother as she bore you, with great, hoarse groans and a sweet groaning of the flesh, red waters, clear waters, carrying you here — from what distant shore I can only guess. It's easier to imagine the pounding your small body took (wise men tell us dying is less difficult, and no wonder: it is not nearly so surprising an eviction, and from such innocence!) — those fierce contractions buffeting you, that narrow tunnel through, and that light at the end: heaven, or terror? Our tears and yours suggesting both.

Opened Flesh, Naked Spirit

The week before, we’d rushed home when Pris called to say she was having contractions ( more false labor) with an eagerness that made Pris laugh. But everyone’s eagerness, including her own, had become tiresome for her these past few days, so we all pretended not to be eager. I stayed at my desk instead of leaping into the air, jump­ing up and down and making squealing noises the way. . . had last week when she’d called."

Waking Up . . . Or Am I Only Dreaming?

In the dim light of stars, a mind, round and glossy as a bowling ball, began to understand the universe. With a giant cosmic whump, all minds suddenly fused, becoming an unspeakably beautiful all-knowing giant black ball, slowly turning forever. . .and never.


I gave $10 to Eric Goldstein — he was the closest thing to beatnik or hippie I knew (it was during that transition time when there were few real beatniks left and not yet any authentic hippies) — and commissioned him to bring me back an LSD sugar cube from across the river in Philadelphia. A few days later I visited for the first time that sacred zone, nearly jumped out a second story window like Art Linkletter’s daughter but eventually returned to New Jersey in a state of beatification. I didn’t make it to the California layer of that zone for another twelve years. When I was 19 I worked in the post office in Cherry Hill to save the money to make the move to California. I accumulated $700, then quit and began to make plans for my trip.

A Simple Answer

Spiritual certainty takes many forms-the small Negro man who carried a shopping bag and spoke at my doorstep of the last days, quietly expressing his hope that I would believe, and survive them; the huge woman at the shopping center, wordless and stolid, her hair dyed red in a high bouffant, who handed me a pamphlet outlining a four-step plan for salvation; the burly man who limps and sweats beside the post office down- town, slapping his Bible and hoarsely proclaiming God’s word, while people maneuver around him as if he were a post; even the boy who stood the other day in the laundromat, mouth dry and hands trembling, while his eyes darted furtively in search of a target for his message.

The Death Of The Farm

Every week, hundreds of farms go out of business. Only half the farms that were viably operating in 1950 exist today. In less than thirty years, three million farms have disappeared. The story of their demise is one of America’s greatest tragedies.


I met a man who raises chickens. Not so uncommon an occupation on the surface. This particular man, however, raises roosters and in an age of mass production, fifty is about the most he can manage at the height of the season. If you were interested in buying one of his birds it would cost you between $20 and $30 a pound. Alive. Dead they are worth nothing.

Graham: The Town That Said No To The Railroad

Graham’s founders were pleased with the pretty little town which grew around their stucco and brick courthouse. So pleased, according to legend, that they rejected the proposed passage of the North Carolina Railroad’s dirty, disruptive/ locomotives within a block of the courthouse, choosing peace over progress and prosperity.

Not Quite Our Sort

“Anything,” I say. “Anything but that.” They were trying to make me eat chicken. As an intelligence agent I had been through the wringer many times —torture, torture, forever torture. But I hate chicken. I detest chicken. I would tell them anything if I had to eat chicken.

Books: A Childish Ignorance

Review Of William Humphrey's Farther Off From Heaven

There is a time early in life when things seem ordered for the best. That is not to say that life is easy then, or carefree (as adults, observing from their vantage point the lives of children, often wrongly assume), but beyond the urgent concerns and difficulties of life are facts that seem unchangeable: mother and father are there (for some that isn’t true; their experience may be different), and everything, ultimately, will be all right. Many a writer has portrayed that time of innocence-some never write of anything else-and it seems likely that such a period in man’s life relates to his early myths of paradise. There was a time, we insist, when all was right with the world, before some terrible event. . . Around the loss of paradise hover certain ideas: a sense of man’s wrongdoing, belief in a judge, the fact of death. In Genesis, man sins, and the Father — or at least his benevolent relationship to man — seems forever lost; it is because of man’s wrongdoing that death comes into existence. But it seems possible that such an account has the order of things reversed, that actually man becomes aware of death — he realizes that all is not right with the world —and takes the blame on himself, assumes a sense of wrongdoing; looking for a Judge, he settles on the Creator of the world. The wages of Sin are Death, we have been told, but perhaps our falling out of line\ with God’s will for our lives stems from our anxiety as we confront the fact of death: the wages of Death are Sin.

Temple Sweeper

Adverse drug effects are encouraged by multiple drug use; interactions between medications may alter their intended therapeutic effect. Multiple prescriptions are common, particularly within the present fragmented health system in which a person’s care may be divided among various specialists. In addition, people are often misinformed concerning the identity, purpose, side effects and dosage instructions for their medications. Improper storage may alter the properties of drugs or even make them strongly toxic. For example, outdated tetracycline can cause kidney damage; nitroglycerin can deteriorate quickly if exposed to light or moisture.

Shadow Dancing

Autumn comes, summer ends . . . so quickly.The fire is momentarily resurrected in dazzling fall days, brilliant changing falling leaves. I compete with birds and squirrels for the bounty of fruit, nuts, berries. Too delicate for scorching summer, good-eating greens form carpets everywhere. This season, between fire and ice, is a delightful respite.

*NOTE: Original copies of this issue are no longer available. Unbound, laser-printed copies will be provided for print orders.



Disappointment is a good sign of basic intelligence. It cannot be compared to anything else: it is so sharp, precise, obvious and direct. If we can open, then we suddenly begin to see that our expectations are irrelevant compared with the reality of the situations we are facing.

Chogyam Trungpa

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