2011 First Prize in Poetry

Nkoaranga by Emma Broder

July bears me up onto plains,
onto pounded, dusty roads,

where banana plants hunch with ripeness.
On the way to market in Arusha,

I feel the rhythms of chickens stowed
under seats, of jam pots, of rice and sugar.

As the car clings to the earth,
I speak to the quick warmth in a man’s face.

My words thread into a halting tune.
Safi sana, he says.

Very clean, your language.
The land answers in a moan,

and in the back seat, a child sucks an orange
like a fire, compressed.

<Thornton Wilder Writing Competition