Our first poem of 2019 is the winning entry for last semester’s poetry contest, written by Georgia Luckhurst.

I am trying to write

I am trying to write with the begged courage of all the boys who kissed me before I said they could. Looked into my wet eyes – wide, pupils dilated? They say that’s a sign –

And stooped their heads, and mashed their brows, into a this is it face, a resigned attraction face

The first one propped me against a church God had recently vacated in time for rats and first kisses and I tasted his teeth like the stones pressing into my back.
I didn’t see how there was room for the rest, whatever we were getting out of this other than a story

Once, against a laundry drum, our breaths upstaged by the rumbling vats.
Pausing for grey socks and the correct cycle for a cotton wash and, again,
the grinding of teeth. I grit mine at night; I don’t know if they can tell

When I was sixteen a sofa ate me
and a boy lurched forward and broke its jaw.
We kissed gratefully, though my knees stayed sunk
in the swollen tongue of the padded green seat.

The same year on a train in indeterminate countryside. Minus thirty. Snowy fields.
I looked for faultlines. Red on white

Turned to him and whispered in our wrong: language

I am trying to write with all the begged courage of the boys who kissed me before I said they could, but every story has the embarrassed blush of fiction

Every story stammers with a well-intentioned shift