Category Archives: Essay/Memoir

Puzzle Envy by Vicky Oliver

Photo of hand holding pen filling in crossword
 

Each week, my husband completes the New York Times Sunday Magazine crossword puzzle in about thirty minutes, leaving no square unfilled. He writes in pen and never crosses anything out. Starting at 1 Across, and moving across the puzzle like a ravenous lawnmower razing grass, he completes all the Across sections to approximately 120 Across, only deigning to glance at the Down clues if he reaches a difficult patch. If I were an insecure person, I’d feel pretty dumb by comparison. The only clues he ever asks my help with are the names of makeup … Continue reading Puzzle Envy by Vicky Oliver

Abraham’s Mustard by Philip Newman Lawton

Photo of people walking down sidewalk
 

There was small marble sculpture of an aged figure on an unpretentious pedestal near the eastern end of St. Donatus Park, a leafy space in the old city of Louvain, Belgium. The figure was that of a seated elder with eyes wide open and a biblical beard; were there not an owl on his lap, were his hands not serenely folded, he might have been a prophet. The pedestal bore a placard, in Flemish, that read, “Wise is he who wants to know where Abraham gets the mustard.” The park had a wide dirt pathway, … Continue reading Abraham’s Mustard by Philip Newman Lawton

Falling Down by Celia Meade

Photo of baby
 

On a windy day in December, just after the sun had set, I stepped out to go to the grocery store for milk. The wind whipped my hair across my glasses, and I didn’t see the uneven sidewalk by the Greek restaurant. It wasn’t icy but I fell anyway. The sidewalk smacked my chin hard, and I bled all over my delicate silk scarf. A gold crown rolled out onto the sidewalk. Someone was making moaning, animal sounds and that someone was me. My spectacles dug into my cheek, the concrete pushing them past their … Continue reading Falling Down by Celia Meade

Eighteen Years and Seven Months by E. H. Jacobs

Photo of hands using cell phone
 

Rebecca leaned into the driver’s-side window while I let the engine idle. Her brown hair had lengthened over the summer, and some strands fluttered into the car. The constellations in the ink-black sky and two lampposts illuminated the gravel parking lot. Hugging me, she said in a voice raspy with fatigue, “Thanks for coming with me, Dad.” I waited while she crossed the lot—the pebbles crunching underfoot interrupting the rhythm of the frogs and insects on this rural New Hampshire night. As she approached the road to return to the summer camp where she worked, … Continue reading Eighteen Years and Seven Months by E. H. Jacobs

My Most Memorable Patient by Roselyn Elliott

Photo of red Accident and Emergency sign
 

Ten years after graduation, at seven a.m., Sunday morning, I round the corner to my office and nearly stumble into a distraught family in prayer. Six adults, seated with their heads bowed, listen as a Catholic priest, and a Baptist minister, beseech God to help them. A teenage boy leans against the doorjamb, listening, but obviously uncomfortable. In a second, I decide the clergymen have the situation under control and proceed directly to the ICU to learn what has happened. As I guessed from the looks of the people in my office, the news is … Continue reading My Most Memorable Patient by Roselyn Elliott

Snow Day by Ari McGuirk

Photo of drug paraphernalia
 

Marinara stains blotted my white hoodie’s waist hem like blood droplets. Posters of fighter jets lined the grey walls of the recruiter’s office. A Dodgers baseball cap squeezed straight brown hair over my ears and scraggly peach fuzz climbed my jawline. A tuft of jet-black hair topped the recruiter’s head, sides shaved to the scalp. Fluorescent light reflected off his desk’s glass surface. Next to his U.S. Air Force insignia, a name tape read “Daigle.” I’d been studying rank insignias, and four chevrons on his uniform’s sleeves meant Staff Sergeant. Families bundled in winter coats … Continue reading Snow Day by Ari McGuirk

The Wounded Warrior of East Boston Terrace by Cyndy Muscatel

Photo of woman with bandaid on hand
 

I have a scar under my chin, right at the end where it meets the jaw. You can’t see it unless I’m hanging upside down, which is a rare occurrence these days. I’d forgotten about it—hadn’t seen or touched its roughness for years. But then my granddaughter cracked her chin open jumping backward into a swimming pool. All the blood reminded me of when I was five and jumped off a wall. Like Humpty Dumpty, when I landed I cracked open—but just my chin. It didn’t hurt. It was only when the TWO GIRLS started screaming. … Continue reading The Wounded Warrior of East Boston Terrace by Cyndy Muscatel

A Room Called Remember by Mary McCue

Photo of stars in sky
 

The sound of rustling leaves, like old fashioned petticoats, soothed the cold lodged like a stone above my brow. Compliant for once to the vagaries of my body, I stretched out on the floor letting my mind wander toward the Blue Ridge sprawled across the horizon in a color I love because of its smoky calm. How relieved my father would be to see where I live. In a rare heart-to heart conversation two years before his death in 1992, I told him how unhappy I was in my marriage of thirty years “We’ve come … Continue reading A Room Called Remember by Mary McCue

The Trees Are a Better Mother by Genevra Levinson

Black and white photo of bare tree
 

Genevra Levinson is an Honorable Mention in Streetlight‘s 2020 Essay/Memoir Contest It is autumn. I think of Mary Oliver’s river of loss as I watch the trees burn fragrantly and allow themselves to be naked in their distance from the sun. I wonder about this kind of graceful dying, and how we humans grapple with death and the strangeness of our own faces during the fall season—the dying season. The ghoul-masks, monsters, blood, and skeletons no longer thrill me darkly as they did when I was a child, nor fill me with dread as they … Continue reading The Trees Are a Better Mother by Genevra Levinson

Stripping by Vicky Oliver

Photo of outside of goodwill store
 

Vicky Oliver is an Honorable Mention in Streetlight’s 2020 Essay/Memoir Contest It was an orgy of silk and satin and velvet. Twenty cocktail dresses sprawled on my floor, all temptresses still in their peak, wanting to be touched, craving admiration. They each had their stories and I thumbed through them the way most people listen to golden oldies, remembering with a mixture of awe, sadness, and a lurch of nostalgia that tugs somewhere between the heart and the gut. This was me, I thought. They all were, and not so very long ago. The sleeveless, … Continue reading Stripping by Vicky Oliver