WWPH Writes 64…writes the holidays! Read the first-prize winners of our third annual WWPH WRITES the Holidays contest, judged by Kim Roberts. And please consider an end-of-year donation to your Washington Writers’ Publishing House. We plan to kick off our 50th-anniversary literary celebrations in 2024 with your help. Upcoming events include AWP in Kansas City this year, a WWPH reading with MoCo Underground at the Sandy Spring Museum on February 15, a new Literary Salon program kicking off at Solid State Books in D.C. on February 24, and that’s just the first eight weeks of the year. Donate $50 (or more) to keep us going for the next 50 years!
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Eli V. Rahm (they/them) is a queer writer from Virginia. Eli is the recipient of the 2023 Mary Roberts Rinehart Poetry Award and the 2020 Joseph A. Lohman III Award in Poetry. Their work is featured or forthcoming in Passages North, Bellingham Review, beestung, Barren, The Academy of American Poets, Portland Review, among others. You can find them tweeting about horror films and strange animals @dinodysphoria
©Eli V. Rahm 2023
Myna Chang (she/her) is the author of The Potential of Radio and Rain (CutBank Books). Her writing has been selected for Norton’s Flash Fiction America and Best Small Fictions. She has won the Lascaux Prize in Creative Nonfiction and the New Millennium Award in Flash Fiction. She lives in Potomac.
HOLD CLOSE THE SWEET
Katy refused to acknowledge the family ghosts. She’d always told her mother it was foolish superstition, this insistence that their ancestors continued on. That the living must feed the dead. What did her deceased grandfather need with a bowl of persimmons?
“Their fragrance calls him back to me,” her mother had said every year as she arranged dishes on the family shrine.
That had been the seed of it, Katy thought. The disagreement that had launched the lifelong rift with her mother. First the ghosts, then the boys she dated, the major she chose in college, all of it. They’d agreed on nothing, neither life nor death.
Now, when Katy notices persimmons at the market, she scurries by, turns away from the past. But when her own daughter stops to examine the fruit, Katy is forced to look—and her heart squeezes. The persimmon basket dominates the produce table, staged just like her mother’s old shrine.
“What’s this, Momma?” the little girl asks.
Katy lifts a persimmon to her nose, inhales the bittersweet burst of her mother’s memory.
“This was your grandmother’s favorite,” Katy replies. “Your great-grandfather’s, too.”
“Can we try some?”
Katy hesitates, traces her fingers around the stem. Her mouth fills with a phantom honey-tang, and for an instant, her mother is there—her firm embrace, the lilt of her voice.
Katy closes her eyes, exhales the bitter. Holds close the sweet.
“Yes, let’s take some home,” she finally replies. “And I’ll tell you about our family ghosts.”
©Myna Chang 2023
Thank you, Kim Roberts, for being part of the WWPH community! More about this poet, editor, and literary historian here
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