plum pudding

Plum Pudding
by James Penha

My grandfather lived alone in room 504 of Manhattan’s Pickwick Arms. He looked like Adolphe Menjou but still had a heavy European accent despite his having lived in America for a half-century by the time my dad, my twelve-year-old brother and I, three years younger, visited him on Christmas, 1956. He declined to join us for dinner at my other grandfather’s big house in Queens. But he wanted us to carry there, as every year, a plum pudding purchased from a confectioner’s on Madison Avenue. My grandfather carefully placed the box with its fragile treat in my brother’s outstretched hands. “Don’t drop the plum pudding, Edward,” said my grandfather more than once as we departed. Mimicking my grandfather’s accent, I chanted, “Don’t drop the plum pudding, Edward” as we descended in the elevator. My brother couldn’t help but laugh. “Don’t drop the plum pudding, Edward,” I reminded him on the sidewalk as he stepped to cross the street en route to our parked car. From a fifth-floor window, the white-haired head of my grandfather called down, sounding just like me, “Don’t drop the plum pudding, Edward.” My brother guffawed, and the plum pudding was down and out on Second Avenue.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This oft-told Penha family legend was previously published in 2014 as prologue to my Christmas poem “Angel, Waking” in Snowflakes and Memories. Durham Editing; E-books.


PHOTO: Edward and James (aka Jackie) awaking on a Christmas morning some years before the case of the plum pudding.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A native New Yorker, James Penha has lived for the past quarter-century in Indonesia. He has been nominated for Pushcart Prizes in fiction and in poetry. Snakes and Angels, a collection of his adaptations of classic Indonesian folk tales, won the 2009 Cervena Barva Press fiction chapbook contest; No Bones to Carry, a volume of his poetry, earned the 2007 New Sins Press Editors’ Choice Award. Penha edits The New Verse News, an online journal of current-events poetry.