All posts by Susan Shafarzek

Quetico by Larry Glass

Fog over water and trees
 

At some point—I’m not sure when—I came to accept that there are quite a few things that I can’t control. It was not a conscious decision, no epiphany, no wrestling with big ideas. It’s not really ceding control—it’s accepting what has become increasingly obvious, in truth probably somewhere between realizing and accepting. The stock market, terrorism, famine, middle of the night trips to the bathroom, gray hair, the clutter that my wife and kids leave on the kitchen counter where I’m trying to cook, the hair that our dogs shed on the furniture, the weather. … Continue reading Quetico by Larry Glass

A Circular Argument by Miles Fowler

Older computer monitor and keyboard
 

I am a compulsive researcher. If it were not such a useful compulsion, I would need a twelve-step program to break the habit. I can get hooked on almost any research project, although I tend to obsessively research things that interest me like history, motion pictures and the supernatural, which, like religion, has long been a topic of interest to me without my necessarily believing in the suspension of the laws of nature. I am especially motivated to spend hours poring over records if I feel an emotional connection with a subject, for example, a … Continue reading A Circular Argument by Miles Fowler

Computing the Elusive Spirit of Place by Inderjeet Mani

Statue in front of blue and pink sky
 

We have our entanglements and love affairs with places. “And the end of all our exploring,” T. S. Eliot promises, “will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” Such knowledge may be never-ending. We don’t know what the sense of place felt like to our hunter-gatherer forebears, but judging from their sophisticated tracking and navigational skills, they were able to notice things in their environment that most of us have long forgotten. Luckily, along with other mammals, we still have our built-in sense of place, with maps of … Continue reading Computing the Elusive Spirit of Place by Inderjeet Mani

The Blue Dress by Karen Foster

Red shoes under blue cloth
 

***Karen Foster is an Honorable Mention for Streetlight’s 2018 Essay/Memoir Contest***   We Girls sit close together in the backseat of the car: Mission Accomplished. The Presentation of Mary Academy semi-formal is tonight and I am “doubling” with my friend, Maureen (a.k.a. “Mo”) and her steady boyfriend, Joe. A doll-sized study in organization, she has mapped out routes, timetables, and assignments over the past weeks with the efficiency of an executive level manager. Mo’s huge eyes and long lashes are framed by sharply penciled eyebrows that travel to the edge of her face. Joe’s large … Continue reading The Blue Dress by Karen Foster

Library or Museum by Judy Longley

People standing before wall full of stained glass
 

Choosing between life in a library or a museum—either choice seems disloyal to the other. As a poet I revel in language. I splash in sacred waters, words swirl around me like schools of fish in streams of inspiration. Well sometimes not. Some days I sit on the bank and wait for a nibble, slapping mosquitoes away. But I have a mute twin who finds refuge in silence, wordless descriptions, emotional constructs revealed in color contrasts, brush marks. A spiritual response to the visual, the intimate sheen of light on stone carved centuries ago, the … Continue reading Library or Museum by Judy Longley

Three East Third by John Gredler

Pigeon
 

***John Gredler is an Honorable Mention for Streetlight’s 2018 Essay/Memoir Contest***   I now had the second floor at 3 East Third to myself, a mattress on the floor, my radio cassette player and piles of books on either side. Not much else, not even a chair. Two tall windows faced the brick wall of the neighboring building with the faded letters spelling Provenzano Lanza Funeral Home painted on it. A small garden below allowed morning light to come in and the sounds of traffic to echo constantly day and night. The floor, old wide … Continue reading Three East Third by John Gredler

Indelible Tracks Essay by Erin Levens

Train Tracks
 

***Erin Levens is an Honorable Mention of Streetlight’s 2018 Essay/Memoir Contest***   I know I’m falling asleep when I slip under the cowcatcher onto a bed of hay. Strands of hay poke through the bars of iron used to clear the track of obstacles impeding the train’s journey. I curl up and feel protected and safe behind these bars. I trust that the train will guard me with its power. My holy place is a train station. I remember standing on the platform careful to stay behind the white line. Four, five years old. If … Continue reading Indelible Tracks Essay by Erin Levens

Shadows in the Afternoon by Miles Fowler

Light through small, barred window
 

The day before Halloween 1967, I came home from school, turned on the television, and discovered the supernatural soap opera Dark Shadows. All I saw was the episode’s final minute: A beautiful blonde descends a staircase and stops in front of a portrait. She loosens her scarf to reveal two puncture wounds on the side of her neck. It seems that the glowering man in the picture is probably the vampire that bit her. Cut to commercials, followed by the closing credits, which are accompanied by the haunting theme, composed by Robert Cobert and performed … Continue reading Shadows in the Afternoon by Miles Fowler

A Road Trip Through Texas After We Stopped Loving Each Other by Ashley Stimpson

Car parked by curb
 

***Ashley Stimpson is the 3rd place winner of Streetlight’s 2018 Essay/Memoir Contest***   You insist it’s okay to smoke in the rental car, that you’ve done it so many times and never had to pay a cleaning fee. Gently as houseflies, my four left fingers land on the window buttons each time you reveal the Camel Lights from your shirt pocket. Every few hours, I have one too, so you won’t ask if I’m upset. A hot wind shotguns the breath from my lips before I feel even a pang of satisfaction. The highway south … Continue reading A Road Trip Through Texas After We Stopped Loving Each Other by Ashley Stimpson

Hot Toddies by Anne Carson

Person drinking from mug
 

***Anne Carson is the 2nd place winner of Streetlight’s 2018 Essay/Memoir Contest*** Before my older sister outgrew me, outgrew our entire family’s chaos, we shared a bedroom. For a few years there, we were good company for each other. We would stay up after bedtime and role-play storybook fantasies about our futures that seemed more like memories of a former life together centuries ago—as shopkeepers in some village. She on the twin bed beside the windows on the front of the house, me on the bed closer to the hallway. We sold fine goods, maybe … Continue reading Hot Toddies by Anne Carson