Congratulations to Alison Luterman, first place winner in the Non-Rhyming Poetry category of the 89th Annual Writer's Digest Writing Competition. Here's her winning poem, "Paying the Rent."
Paying the Rent
We are going to pay the rent, my mother and I.
It's December, early evening.
Fire hydrants are wearing
hats and beards of snow. I've got a hole
in one mitten through which the cold
licks my finger, not unpleasantly,
as my young mother, whom I do not know is young,
hauls me along, hoisting my five-year-old self by one arm
over piled-up hillocks and frozen drifts.
She’s pregnant, massive in her navy coat,
a distant, dependable planet.
My sister who is not yet my sister
sleeps the dreamless sleep of the embryo,
folded inside that high belly
like a fortune in a cookie,
abstract as the idea of someday, months from now
as explained to a kindergartener
whose parents are tall implacable gods,
setting the sun in place with one hand
and the moon with the other
like spoons and cups at the dinner table.
At home, my little brother
is throwing a chubby leg over his crib slats,
making a brief escape,
as our father nods over the open newspaper.
So much hasn't happened to us yet.
The unwinnable war is thousands of miles away.
My mother still moves through her days
like a ship pulling everyone along in her wake,
while high above the witching trees
white clouds scud by, assemble, and break apart.