Non-Rhyming Poetry First Place Winner: "Paying the Rent"

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."
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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."

Competition

[See the complete winners list.]

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.

Non-Rhyming Poetry
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