Category Archives: Essay/Memoir

Postcard From the Darkroom by Valerie Kinsey

Inside of a darkroom with safe light
 

During a late afternoon P.E. class in fourth grade, my mother came looking for me on the playground in her leather boots that zipped to the knee. In those days she wore her brown hair in a short permanent wave that looked like a little cap of curls from far away. I remember seeing her standing on the foursquare courts between our shrill games and the parking lot. She claims she called my name and I ignored her. I don’t remember the events of the afternoon this way; however, my family had encountered a lot … Continue reading Postcard From the Darkroom by Valerie Kinsey

My Sister by Peter Breyer

Picture of Berlin
 

The voice of the singer soared over the lyrics of the gospel choir that Easter morning a decade and a half ago. You plead my cause, You right my wrongs/ You break my chains, You overcome/ You gave Your life, to give me mine/ You say that I am free…How can it be? I had plenty of reason for celebration sitting by my wife of thirty-five years, our son and his fiancée, and finally, my 88-year-old mother, all in a row. The exuberant parishioners were filled with joy, but I was still distracted with the … Continue reading My Sister by Peter Breyer

Car Talk by Joan Lassiter

Tan 1973 Buick Riviera
 

I wheel in beside the beige Buick. Ten years ago Mama had claimed its parking space twenty feet below her apartment balcony. From there she watches over her car—a proud reminder that she still has places to go, people to see. “Hi, Honey!” she calls as my feet swivel from beneath the steering wheel and onto the pavement. I squint upward. Her gray curls are barely visible above the brick ledge. “Hurry on up. I need a hug.” Juggling my canvas tote and purse I lean down to peep into the half-lowered window of the … Continue reading Car Talk by Joan Lassiter

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

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

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

24 Hours by Heather Bartlett

View through back of ambulance
 

***Heather Bartlett is the 1st place winner of Streetlight’s 2018 Essay/Memoir Contest***   “Working for 24 hours straight is all about your perspective,” he says. “Your body can handle it. Human beings adapt. Think about it. How many times have you stayed up all night studying? Or partying?” “Sure,” I say, “but this is different.” It’s so hard. Physically. Without sleep I have to interact with so many people, make decisions and make sense. Both a patient and my partner are depending on me when I’m definitely not my best. I’m only partially sure it … Continue reading 24 Hours by Heather Bartlett