First place: Vareniki, Marie-Aline Roemer
In the morning we buy butter, fat as moons. There is time to count the bitter cherries from the bag, swirl their stones against our teeth, wait for the silence of the afternoon.
The last time your hand touched his, they were like this, gloved in flour, trembling with a goodbye. As he went, your white fingers glowed through the kitchen like shooting stars, fizzing at the night.
You make vareniki. The tough dough is your mother’s skin, stretched thin across her knuckles. You knit their bellies shut, trap cherries like you wish you could trap the good in that place, all those fat-mooned nights, and all the soft, red fruit
that flow from the skin of the vareniki, that form pools like thawing seas— these are the fingers, red around the barrel of a gun, and the cherries are the backs of young boys, bent beneath the rubble of this foreign city. It is a name like vareniki to anyone
who has not tasted the bitterness of losing a son. Outside, the lard moon spreads in a cooling sky, and we suck sweetness from our fingers like we are eating all the lives and all the country and all the soft, red fruit that spread into the silence of a day like dough, rising.
Second Place: Gerrymanderings of the Mind, Armel Dagorn
Gerrymanderings of the Mind
As newcomers to the town we didn’t know rue Crébillon
was, always had been the poshest street in Nantes,
home to the bourgeois since guillotine times and beyond,
and that we would raise eyebrows and oh la las
simply by giving our new address, despite the not-hugeness
of our flat, the not-high ceilings bearing no chandeliers,
the lack of a doctor or lawyer’s plate on our door.
The Kafka fans guarding the dole coffers eyed us, suspicious, but stamped our demands
all the same, warily, weighing their words – you’d half think
they expected us, like in some ancient eastern tale, to be sultans slumming it down to their level
for a day, trying the life of the jobless before heading homeward to our palace.
Special Commendation: Prayer, Hanne Busck-Nielsen
Faðer uor som ast i himlüm,halgað warðe þitnama
We watch night climb the fells around us. The scree slope buries its face with dark and below Wast Water puckers a last flutter-dash across its pewter sheen. Tilkomme þitrikie. Skie þin uilie so som i himmalan
Its depth is foreign to me, these serious mute mountains not mine; so oh bo iordanne. Wort dahliha broð gif os i dah.
only the names: Eskdale, St Olaf’s Church feel almost homely – almost like relatives you’ve never met but for your parents’ memory.
A bird calls above us, then a rustle in the meagre margins along the lake.
Wast Water, black omphalos of a wounded earth – Oh forlat os uora skuldar we are soon gone, our lives hidden again – but you draw deep, back to the source.
so som oh ui forlate þem os skuüldihi are.
In this darkness there is no pretence, not much at least. Oh inleð os ikkie i frestalsan utan frels os ifra ondo. Here the scale is another, requiring a growing stride. Tü rikiað ar þit oh mahtan oh harlihheten The mountains mutter their knuckled prayer i ewihhet. Aman.