A lesson on multiplication

by Judy Kaber
The Waters
First Place, June 2010
Judged by Fiona Sampson


A girl in my class is obsessed
with babies. Each spare minute
she draws them, their large heads
bobble on the page, forever nodding.
No words enter their minds.
They never speak, hold hands,
or even wave. They exist mutely,
before language, all staring eyes,
wide raucous mouth. If they think
at all, it is in pictures, raw images,
bands of color with undulant threads,
circular shapes that bring comfort,
mottled air that brings hunger or grief.
They know nothing of math, less even
than the girl who draws them instead
of cobbling meaning from the story
of Tom with his two dozen eggs
and a desire to bake cakes.
No numbers appear.
Only hair. Lips.
Longing.


This is a deft, never cautious, astonishing poem. It makes us think differently about girls and their daydreams, about classrooms – and above all about babies. A real feat and above all no hostages to sweetness along the way. --Fiona Sampson

  • October 2018 Winners

    • First Place

      The Emails Go Unanswered
      by Lois P. Jones
      PenShells

      Second Place

      Hidden Room
      by F.H. Lee
      The Write Idea

      Third Place

      The Penitent
      by Ken Ashworth
      The Writer's Block

      Honorable Mention

      You Can Call Me a Tough Cookie, But It Really Doesn’t Matter
      by Midnight Moon
      Wild Poetry Forum

  • September 2018 Winners

    • First Place

      Let Me End the Way the Dinosaurs Began
      by Guy Kettelhack
      Wild Poetry Forum

      Second Place

      Monotony
      by John Riley
      The Waters

      Third Place

      Astrophotographer
      by Brenda Levy Tate
      PenShells