plain china: best undergraduate writing

Volume One : Issue One

Wild Four-O’Clock


by Ben Knudsen

At the End of the Day by Laainam Chaipornkaew

I don’t know whether my father
found the seeds, or whether they came
with the wind in a thunderstorm,
but in mid-afternoon they sprouted
all at once, and purple petals
unfolded in the center of his brain.

We burned the body and buried
what was left in the mountains,
hidden carefully away on the side
of an irrigation ditch. But four-o’clocks
are flowers that spread like fire,
and soon enough they found the grave.

They sit like jellyfish on the bed
of pine needles, trailing a tangled mess
of roots beneath, each of them a blind,
open mouth, searching forever
for my father. At four o’clock,
the flowers bloom and choke on ash.

About the Author


Ben Knudsen

Princeton University

Ben Knudsen is a junior from New Mexico studying mathematics and creative writing at Princeton University.