Finalist: Sabrina Guo

Evil Things, Good Things

Every New Year’s Eve, my friend smashes six pomegranates
on her lawn, and when I ask why, she says it is because
she is Greek. I want to understand what she means— 

on the Internet, I find Persephone: abducted
by Hades, her mother Demeter drying the earth
into a cold, long winter until Zeus arranged 

for Persephone’s return—because she ate
six pomegranate seeds, she had to return to Hades
to spend each winter in the darkness. I wonder 

if the more my friend’s pomegranates break, the more
their seeds are spread—the more luck and fertility
there will be in the New Year, not so different 

from my own superstition, my own need to squeeze
the eye dropper six times, never four, because my parents
say four is unlucky, since the word for four in Chinese, 

Sì, sounds almost identical to death, and the only difference
is the level of inflection when pronounced. It seems strange
that six seeds would have been so unlucky, but without them, 

there wouldn’t be seasons to wish for. Without the number
four, I couldn’t love the number six, and when she tells me
about the pomegranate pulp, tiny seeds clinging to frozen grass

in the January cold, maybe that’s why I understand what she means.