Creative Nonfiction

Summers of Urchins and Love

ANNE VISSER NEY is a writer, biologist, and U.S. Coast Guard veteran. Her work has recently appeared in Ruminate, the Fourth River, and Brain, Child, and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize (fiction) and the Whiting Award (creative nonfiction). She currently lives in Saint Petersburg, Florida.


I was twelve or thirteen the summer I discovered Kahlil Gibran’s prose poetry classic, The Prophet. I was entranced by its lyrical mysticism, and I lazed away afternoons reading the philosopher’s wisdoms about life and love. The Prophet stirred my adolescent passions.

For her birthday that year, I made my grandmother a card on which I pasted a black-and-white photograph of her five grandchildren posed tallest to shortest. Opposite the snapshot, I neatly printed the prophet’s words:

Your children are not your children.

They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.

Grandma was a no-nonsense registered nurse, recently retired from General Motors, where she had spent decades triaging sick, maimed, or mortally wounded assembly-line workers. I loved her ability to stare life in the eye without losing her sense of wonder or her love for beauty. I fancied myself like her. I thought my newfound muse would move her, too. She scrutinized my creation with twinkling blue eyes.

“Oh, my!” she said and hugged me—she must have been touched by my naiveté. She placed the message in a gold frame on her shelf, where it became a touchstone for me as I grew up and learned something about the words I had so cavalierly taken as my own.


I was seventeen the summer I fell in love and (almost) had sex. The boy and I had our first outing over Memorial Day weekend, and by the end of July, he had sworn his love and said he thought we should do it. Intercourse seemed inevitable; we’d been working steadily toward it since our first date. This was our status the night I nearly lost my virginity.

It was late, sometime after the national anthem gave way to the wee-hours TV test pattern. Stars blazed beyond the matchstick blinds; the breeze was spiced with horse manure, soil, and tasseling corn from the fields beyond my house. The boy and I were making out on the couch in my family room.

Citiți o mostră, înregistrați-vă pentru a citi în continuare.

Mai multe de la Creative Nonfiction

Creative Nonfiction1 min citite
Creative Nonfiction
EDITOR Lee Gutkind MANAGING EDITOR Hattie Fletcher SENIOR EDITOR Chad Vogler SECTION EDITOR Dinty W. Moore Exploring the Boundaries EDITORIAL INTERNS & FACT CHECKERS Sarah Capdeville Stephanie Dinkmeyer Zoe Fowler READERS Stephanie Bane Becky Bosshar
Creative Nonfiction8 min cititeCrime & Violence
Law 101 for Writers
Excerpted from Keep It Real: Everything You Need to Know About Researching and Writing Creative Nonfiction, published 2008 by W. W. Norton. A succinct but rich compendium of ideas, terms, and techniques, this book provides all the information writers
Creative Nonfiction13 min cititeCrime & Violence
In the Matter of Alice Berkley
CAITLIN HORROCKS is the author of the novel The Vexations and the story collections Life Among the Terranauts (forthcoming 2021) and This Is Not Your City. She lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan. WHEN I WATCHED the video afterward, I felt embarrassed. I