Solo

In 2012, we established Ploughshares Solos, a digital-first series for longer stories and essays, edited by Ploughshares Editor-in-Chief Ladette Randolph. Solos were compiled in the Solos Omnibus until 2017, after which they were published in our yearly fall longform issue.

After a decade of publication, we ceased publishing new solos in a digital standalone format. You can still enjoy new longform prose in our fall issue. To read Solos-past, subscribe to the Ploughshares archive, starting at $20. Solos are also still available where e-books are sold for download on your Kindle, Nook, iPad, or Kobo.

Granite Ledges

Granite Ledges

Sitting in his favorite chair on the screened porch on the ledge overlooking McHeard’s cove—what they could now see of it through the trees—Freddy Willems was reading his daughter-in-law Annie’s essay, yet another one, planning to tease her about how she did “go on at length,” when one line stopped him: “After her sister died,…

The Twins

The Twins

Harry and Greta were twins. He was—or so their parents told them—older by nine minutes, and therefore when they argued, he claimed to be older and wiser, the one whose opinions took precedence and to whom she should defer. She laughed at him, of course; she had spent her young life laughing, and when he…

So Much Straw

So Much Straw

The end of my labors has come. Such things have been revealed to me that all I have written seems as so much straw. Now I await the end of my life. —Thomas Aquinas   1. How did I come to God? As you see me. In these dark Kentucky woods. The hermitage—really no more…

Balsa and Tissue Paper

Balsa and Tissue Paper

In memory of my father, Donald French Williford and his father, Carl Lex Williford November 1998 1. The first time I decided to drive to Dallas after I’d stayed away for too many years, my mother told me on the phone, “I’m so glad you’re coming home, honey, and so’s your father. Would you like…

Notes on the Pekingese

Notes on the Pekingese

Translation by Christopher Peacock In some places, hapa is a generic term for dogs. But where I come from, the word hapa refers not to the wild, ferocious Tibetan mastiffs kept by nomads, but to a Pekingese: one of those squat, fluffy, snub-nosed, flat-faced, stout-legged little Chinese dogs that shuffles about the house and the…

Into the Fire

Into the Fire

When my parents died, I inherited all of their photographs and papers as they had inherited their parents’ photographs and papers and so on back a few generations. Things came to me chaotically: in old shoe boxes and albums and scrapbooks, in envelopes and baskets and shopping bags, in emptied kitchen drawers. This summer, I’ve…

George Washington’s Teeth

George Washington’s Teeth

On the night before the first day of school, a video was released, and it began to circulate among the parents, teachers, and students of Baldwin Clap Elementary. The video featured Miss Korto, a fourth- and fifth-grade Social Studies teacher, and presented her as a finalist in the National Teacher of the Year Program. Claire…

Drifting Out to Infinity

Drifting Out to Infinity

Jack sat pondering his father, and there was something in his face more absolute than gentleness or compassion, something purged of all the words that might describe it. — Home, Marilynne Robinson 2. Genesis: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 3. My father is…

The Pfeffermans

The Pfeffermans

Of course, they choose the Fourth of July to reenact their childhood, a holiday known for explosions, maimed limbs, trumped-up loyalty. The kids—Abby will never stop calling them that—have grown unduly nostalgic in the past year, mythologizing her mediocre dinners, romanticizing their sporadic vacations, basically whitewashing decades of benign neglect into a family life that…