ESL category

  • First place: Wet Nurse, Mary Jean Chan

    Wet Nurse
    for the woman who raised my mother

    Shanghai, 1953


    The milk pours from my body into a
    strange mouth. It is always hungry
    and so am I. The yulan magnolias

    are rioting in the back garden, unruly
    children bored with yet another Spring.
    The mouth frees my nipple and sprays

    tributaries down my skin. It has been
    ninety-seven days and eight hours since
    the city swallowed my flesh and blood,

    leaving behind a carcass of memories.
    My husband and I have not spoken
    since. He shall never touch me again.

    When the mother leaves the house
    to preach the gospel to the workers,
    I pretend I am her, holding my own

    daughter – promising to never let go.
    Yet arms are only arms. The baby is
    no fool: she sees no problem with

    having two mothers. The father adores
    her from a distance. Seventh child, third
    daughter, beloved one. Each time I kiss

    those milk-scented cheeks, I cut my wrist
    to say: Forgive me. Sometimes I dream
    about a disaster in the mind, so I could

    bury the moment when I abandoned my
    daughter on a train station bench, fearing
    my breast-milk would not be enough for

    two: one who smiles up at me, another
    brushing my breasts with breathless lips.


    Mary Jean Chan

    乳母

    (給養育我母親的女人)

    上海,1953年

    乳奶從我的身體注入
    一雙奇怪的嘴。它始
    終是餓了,我也如此。

    玉蘭騷亂在後花園裡,
    不守規矩 ,像厭倦了
    春天的孩子。口釋放

    我的乳頭 ,奶如支流。
    97天8小時已經消逝,
    城市吞噬了我的血肉,

    留下屍體般的回憶。
    我和丈夫已經沒有
    聯繫。他再也不會

    碰我。當母親離家傳
    福音給工人,我假裝
    我是她,捧著自己的

    女兒,承諾絕不放手。
    然而,手臂只是手臂。
    寶寶不是傻瓜:她認為

    有兩個母親是天經地義。
    父親從遠處崇拜她。第
    七個孩子,第三個女兒,

    唯一的寶貝。每次我親吻
    那奶香味的臉頰,我都會
    痛切自己手腕說:原諒我。

    有時候,我在腦海裏幻想
    一場災難,希望能夠埋葬
    由于擔心乳奶不夠而遺棄

    自己女兒在火車站長椅上
    的那一刻 。今天,一個
    寶寶對我微笑起來,另一

    奄息的嘴唇
    刷著我的乳房。


  • Second place: That Space, Belle Ling

    That Space

    This year the sky
    in Paris is interpreted
    with horror, horse, and stethoscope.
    In April, they say:  
    love conquers all. In May,
    when Venus is in sextile to Neptune,
    your lover wishes for a break-
    through; or a semi-break,
    if a meteorite interrupts
    the Saturn’s orbit, like a heart
    unsettling the stethoscope can’t mend.

    So contented to be charmed,                                                                                            
    the horse bathes
    in the cabochon jade,
    making sure that the grass
    is an illusion. This will happen
    in December—
    it means self-deception, or inspiration.
    People wear love
    and hatred on the seventh day
    of the seventh 
    lunar month, when Zhinü and Niulang,  
    separated for three hundred
    and sixty four days, reunite
    over the star Deneb. It is destiny.
    Once in every year. The diamond dial,
    so promising, brags about the hope.

    Once, you told me
    you are governed by the moon—
    you dream of turquoise, which has been proving
    energy since the pre-historic era; you
    turn it into a warp, let it burden
    your wrist, like your pulse
    distancing the beats from your heart;
    you let it tell you
    to love or not to; you let
    it centre your mind in that space,
    narrating the origin of stars, planets, rocks.  

    Belle Ling


  • Special Commendation: Saturday night fish fry, Luis Elvira

    Saturday night fish fry

    Everybody
    is more than welcome
    to set
    the books
        on fire
    the forbidden ones
    the ones
    which cause
    the most
        of the troubles
    they are
        dangerous
    poison
        for our souls
    -They say-
    those
    who build
        the houses
    we live in to
    those who draw
    the maps
        of the roads
    we drive through
    don´t get me wrong

    we sleep well                  
           tight

    we don't complain
    it´s just
        this fear
    of uncertainty
        or what Britons
    name
        cash in hand


    Luis Elvira