Summer 1993 • Vol. XV No. 3 Fiction |

Letter from an Upstate Prison: An Excerpt from “Sorrow”, a Novel

Dear Nita---, the letter began, I am told that you want to visit me here. This is not a good idea. I know why you want to come. I know what you are thinking. But your thinking is wrong in every way. It was written with flowing blue ink in a big round regular hand on the kind of lined yellow paper that comes in a pad, the top edges curled from being folded over the pad and frayed from being torn off it, and maybe from handling and rereading. There were many pages---the whole pad or more---and they had come, unfolded, in a big manila envelope with the return address of the state prison where Jimmy Rivers had been sent. The letter continued: I don't want you showing up here trying to save me. I don't want you saying what you think you know. I killed a woman I loved. I have to be where I have to be. I have to be here. So rest your heart easy on my account. Anything more that's bothering you, and I know what it is, you keep to yourself. You get on with things now. Get on with you

Already have an account? Login

Join KR for even more to read.

Register for a free account to read five free pieces a month from our current issue and digital archive.
Register for Free and Read This Piece



Or become a subscriber today and get complete, immediate access to our digital archives at every subscription level.
Catherine Gammon is a fiction writer and Soto Zen priest in the San Francisco Zen Center lineage of Shunryu Suzuki Roshi. Her novel Sorrow (Braddock Avenue Books, 2013) was a finalist for the Northern California Book Award. Her novel Isabel out of the Rain was published by Mercury House in 1991, and her fiction has appeared in many literary magazines, among them Ploughshares, the Kenyon Review, New England Review, Iowa Review, and Other Voices. Other recent work appears in Artifice 4.

Read More

Guilty

By Catherine Gammon

Dear Nita---, the letter began, I am told that you want to visit me here. This is not a good idea. I know why you want to come. I know […]

Subscribe

Your free registration with Kenyon review incudes access to exclusive content, early access to program registration, and more.

Donate

With your support, we’ll continue 
to cultivate talent and publish extraordinary literature from diverse voices around the world.