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Catriona MacKay

Honorable Mention 2008 Utmost Christian Poetry Contest: $50

About this Christian Poet:
Born at the stroke of midnight, in a thunderstorm, with six fingers on each hand, my first moments gave me something to live up to. To earn my keep, I have taught English in Athens, curated Isaac Newton's papers, and pulled pints at the local pub. I also did a Master's degree about a seventeenth century manuscript involving a man who gets engaged to a talking flower, but is thwarted by an evil dandelion. I now have a job which sounds dreary, but which I absolutely love. In my spare time I am working on my first novel.

About this Poem:
I've always thought of myself as someone who doesn't write poetry. I hadn't even tried since I was a child. But I did a poetry workshop as part of a creative writing course last year and this is a slightly tweaked version of what emerged. I find Mary inspiring as a Christian role model, and love art that depicts her. However, I can't help feeling that some of it misses the point...

The Annunciation, c.1500, artist unknown

A window to a world of marble halls,
mottled stone, clear
fountains, old books when they were new.
Mary sits in a garden, pristine,
flowers too clean to grow from earth:
there must be well-washed sand
or white flour sifted
beneath.

Who dusts those airy cloisters? Who
does the weeding, and makes the floors gleam?
Cupid and Psyche's invisible servants,
dragged into Christendom?

No.

Sorry Gabriel—you got the wrong virgin
Mary's round the back with a dustpan and brush.
And the holy child that she will love and bear and bring to birth
Plummets not to flowers but to rich, warm earth.

Copyright ©2008 by Catriona MacKay