First place: Wet Nurse, Mary Jean Chan
Wet Nursefor the woman who raised my motherShanghai, 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
Second place: That Space, Belle Ling
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
the horse bathes
in the cabochon jade,
making sure that the grass
is an illusion. This will happen
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.
Special Commendation: Saturday night fish fry, Luis Elvira
Saturday night fish fry
is more than welcome
the forbidden ones
of the troubles
for our souls
we live in to
those who draw
of the roads
we drive through
don´t get me wrong
we sleep well
we don't complain
or what Britons
cash in hand