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More Readings from Creative Nonfiction
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 creative nonfiction

Finding the Extraordinary in the Ordinary
  Samuel F. Pickering Author of "July"

Early in July I spent a day in the Storrs Community Cemetery. I did not wander among graves. Instead I  walked beside the old stone walls, looking at shrubs and vines. Virginia creeper bloomed, and the leaves  of alder buckthorn glowed glossy and silver in the sunlight, almost drawing the eye away from the flowers. While petals wrapped the flowers in dusty green, stamens rose from the centers of the  blossoms, hooded and white, hovering over the pistils. On buffalo berry, fruits absorbed summer and  turned pink. Many leaves were so fresh they resembled spring water, ribs running like streams through  pignut hickory, yellow in the morning.

I read only one tombstone, a small rectangular marker engraved with the name of a man and the dates of  his life, 1917-1990. Attached to the stone and rising half an inch above the granite was the outline of a train engine. Made from iron and turning orange with rust, the engine was old-fashioned. Two wheels on  each side powered the engine, and a cow-catcher stretched in front. The headlight bulged like an eye.   Above the light the smokestack rose in a soft funnel. Balanced on top of the boiler were a bell and two  large metal lumps resembling samovars . . .  pickering

From the Editor
Lee Gutkind, editor, Creative Nonfiction
(This fragment is taken from the introduction to Creative Nonfiction No. 6, The Essayist at Work  Among other things, editor Gutkind talks about the nonfiction writer at work..)

It is 3 a.m., and I am standing on a stool in the operating room at the University of Pittsburgh Medical  Center, in scrubs, mask, cap and paper booties, peering over the hunched shoulders of four surgeons  and a scrub nurse as a dying woman's heart and lungs are being removed from her chest. This is a scene  I have observed frequently since starting my work on a book about the world of organ transplantation,  but it never fails to amaze and startle me: to look down into a gaping hole in a human being's chest, which has been cracked open and emptied of all of its contents, watching the monitor and listening to the rhythmic sighing sounds of the ventilator, knowing that this woman is on the fragile cusp of life and  death and that I am observing what might well be the final moments of her life . . . .   Gutkind

Margaret Gibson

In Amelia County, away from the city of Richmond, my mother was more relaxed. Our Aunt T didn't have  a television. In Amelia, everyone colored and white knew everyone else colored and white. But there were still snakes, black widows, the kicking end of horses, and broomstraw to look out for. Broomstraw?  Broomstraw,, my mother replied emphatically. A man who had been a neighbor, running across a field of  it, had tripped and a stiff shaft of straw shot up his flared nostril, piercing the soft brain. He had been  found on his face in the field. Aside from not being allowed in the barn without a grownup, once out of  Aunt T's house in Amelia we were turned loose to see whatever was there to see. Gibson


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