hand made delicious dumplings (varenyky)

The Friday poem: “Dumplings”, by Nick Ascroft

New verse by Wellington writer Nick Ascroft.



[Editorial note: A panel of experts refute the poem is about dumplings.]



Throw him out like dough on a flour-dusted table,


put your wrists into it, your back – hh – sacrum, hips,

get a knee up, weight the thick of your femur from

up your upper leg to its lock: let him, in your knuckles


and short breaths, feel – ff – hh – ff – it, the dumpling

furl of your pelvic girdle. Left to moisten, commingle,

they’ve been aching thirty minutes


under a sultry towel, while you slit and drained

the bok choy (paâk ts’oì: white vegetable – ff – hh –

gamine little vegetable) and indexed it in ground pork,


just a zaftig waft of scent to salve: dry sherry and

ginger, sweat-odouring scallions, and its oil’s bitter sesame.

Throw him out like the dough of a dumpling skin,


ease him onto his chest on a dusted table.

And engrossed in it, licking like a gecko, roll him.

The dowel works the handfuls of dough to skins


of a half-moon, and furrows pleats of their outer arc.

Everything has waited to steam in clammy bamboo:

the soyabeans and wheat fermenting the salted months


to sauce; him, salty lipped, eyes like cold water and flour,

and a suppler dough in the lower boil;

and you – ff – parched – hh – ff – hand-feeding,

arched – hh – one knee up on a kitchen chair.

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