Category Archives: Essay/Memoir

Fuzzball and the Quakers by Lassiter Williams

Woman under branches

They are called Quakers because the spirit, which is in all beings, begins to move and demands a voice. They quake where they sit, on their plain wooden benches, until that which is in their hearts is spoken aloud to the Meeting. Very often what they have to share is a question or a confirmation of the notion of peace and they stand to speak in the hopes of a self and a world free of violence. My parents joined a Friends Meeting when I was three years old. My younger brother and sister are … Continue reading Fuzzball and the Quakers by Lassiter Williams

The Ribbon Test by Lisa Ellison

holding hands in support

When I was younger I prayed that if I had to get sick, I’d get a movie star illness—one with a color, ribbon, and celebrity spokespersons. It’s not that I wanted to be ill, but in my family broke-down-body lore was a frequent supper topic and bedtime story, complete with mysterious myalgias, fogs, and cases of The Nerves. For years, I thought I’d descended from malingerers or hypochondriacs. I moved six hundred miles away to avoid their fate, believing that, if there was in fact a problem, it was likely the water, Upstate New York’s … Continue reading The Ribbon Test by Lisa Ellison

Skin by Marlena Baraf

dough in small tart pan

Sweet Tarts Tía Mimí was lumpy. My tía Esther was fat. My father’s two sisters never married. “You’ll grow up to be old maids like your aunts,” mami sang to Patricia and me. “Julita doesn’t appreciate your wonderful papi,” they refrained. “Your mami’s spoiled,” they said. “She doesn’t deserve him.” Our tías were surrogates for mami. One or the other would sleep at our house to help their brother Eddie when mami had to travel for treatment. Tía Mimí with dark brown hair and eyes like mine had little bumps all over her body and … Continue reading Skin by Marlena Baraf

Cousin Paul by Joseph Fleckenstein

Paul McCartney playing at concert

I wrote to Paul, but a response was not received. The second time I enclosed adequate British postage, thinking the postage might my enhance chances. It wasn’t as though I was asking for a grant or a personal visit. My mere request was for an autographed photo. A souvenir to hang on the wall. Something to elicit oh’s and aah’s. A “Where did you ever get that?” One would think that, if Paul did not care to be bothered, he would have a secretary to take care his fan mail. Perhaps an elderly widow in … Continue reading Cousin Paul by Joseph Fleckenstein

Cuba Revisited by Marjorie Rissman


We lived in a very small town on Eastern Long Island, closer to duck and potato farms than New York City. But my parents believed that it was important to see beyond the local environment and travel was one of the ways they taught us, my sister and me, to open ourselves to the world. Thus, almost every Winter Break we went on a journey. When we were young we traveled to Florida staying at hotels that were steps away from the beach. When I was eleven we went on a cruise which was so … Continue reading Cuba Revisited by Marjorie Rissman

The Whirlwind by Lyn Martin

Whirlwind illustration by Lyn Martin

It was a fall day, not cold but cool… a brisk and breezy day, full of that feeling you have when a peppermint melts in your mouth and your nose suddenly wakes up. Except this feeling affects your entire body, your mind and your emotions. I remember that feeling from when I was a child and it always made going back to school seem special. But this was an ordinary school day for me; I was in the fourth or fifth grade. Life was wonderful then, every day was a joy, going to school and … Continue reading The Whirlwind by Lyn Martin

My Father’s Tears by Jean Auguste Gravel

man grieving

I’ve never seen my father cry. This is surprising because he’s not one of those “boys don’t cry” sorts and never scolded us for tears. With four small boys running around the house, he saw ours almost daily as we grew up, most often for scraped knees or easily forgotten boyhood tragedies. To him, tears were to sadness what laughter was to mirth—each held an important part in the yin and yang of the emotional spectrum. But I thought I saw him cry once. It was the day of my grandmother’s funeral. I only remember … Continue reading My Father’s Tears by Jean Auguste Gravel

A Matter of Perspective by K. Douglass Hopkins

tom cat

K. Douglass Hopkins, DMV, is the 3rd place winner of Streetlight’s 2016 essay/memoir contest. I sighed as I loaded my duffle into the Trooper, reluctant to leave for a long weekend at the emergency veterinary hospital. It had been one of those perfect early spring days that, slanting now towards a soft peeper-filled dusk, had transported my mind to vanished places and long gone years. The sun, warm across my shoulders as I planted early peas, struck through the bare tree limbs onto flattened taupe grasses and crispy dead leaves. A light breeze replaced the … Continue reading A Matter of Perspective by K. Douglass Hopkins

Heinz and the Hula Doll by Annette Boushey Holland


Annette Boushey Holland is the 1st place winner winner of Streetlight’s 2016 essay/memoir contest. My last year of elementary school, at the end of the 50s, was also the end of my family’s life in Washington D.C., where we’d lived for four whole years. My father was in the Air Force, and we moved a lot while I was growing up. This time he was transferred to a small town in Tennessee, called Tullahoma, where he was to serve as commanding general of the nearby Air Force base. The first day at my new school, … Continue reading Heinz and the Hula Doll by Annette Boushey Holland

No God or Stars by Jennifer Cox


Jennifer Cox is the 2nd place winner of Streetlight’s 2016 essay/memoir contest. Until I was six I was loud and my eyes lit up and family was everyone everywhere. Then my cousin Jeffrey died, and it took a year for the brain tumor to kill him. We were the same age, he was me, and I watched him die. It took a year for him to lose his hair, his sight, his hearing, his face, his hand/eye coordination. He taught me to tie my shoes and then he suddenly couldn’t put his on. He was … Continue reading No God or Stars by Jennifer Cox