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Carolyn E. M. Gibney

Second Prize 2010 Utmost Christian Poetry Contest $600

About this Christian Poet:
Carolyn E.M. Gibney grew up in Colorado Springs, CO. She currently lives and writes in Boston.

About this Poem:
I wrote "Mary, young (sestina)" as a sort of experiment. What if we, the currently living, could actually think of those names we hear so often in Bible stories as more than names, as the human beings that they were? I have a notion that Mary grieved much more than the gospels tell us—that a lot of things were said and done to her between Gabriel's visit and the birth of Christ that were less than kind. And if we can imagine her suffering, how much more might we understand the nature of her obedience and love?

Mary, young (sestina)

Your young skin, swathed in blue,
is perfectly familiar, head
covered in thin fabric.
You wait in the tall grass
in the cool early evening, nipples growing hard,
just as Gabriel had in mind

when he led you here. And you don’t mind,
at first, a little obedience. A blue
bird chirps. You follow. Belly suddenly hard,
you know you’ve conceived, the bird’s head
turning back to you in confirmation. (A blade of grass
could not have penetrated so smoothly as God.) The fabric

of the sky unravels into night as the thin baby fabric
knits together inside you. Maybe he’ll have a mind
for math and languages. Raise dead grass
into living wheat. A trickle of blood, dark enough to be blue,
dribbles down your thigh. You pull your shawl around your head
and weep until your body is hard.

Leaving in the dark, hard
stones dashing bare feet. You swaddle them in strips of fabric
ripped from your cloak and push ahead,
away from your little town which does nothing but remind
you of your scandal. (You knew that blue
word scrawled on the side of the building was about you. The grass

your fingers were twisting dropped when you read it.) And grass
is what you need now. But the land is only hard.
The sky lightens in front of you from black to dark blue
like a healing bruise. There is not enough fabric
to sop the blood from your feet, but you fix your mind
on her. She is waiting for you just ahead.

Her baby’s head
strikes the roof of her womb at your voice. Grass
around her door soothes you first, then her gentle hands mind
your cuts. “God is growing a baby for a hard
world,” she says. And you nod, eyes glazed as though under fabric.
“Yes,” you murmur, “He shrouds me in blue,

though the mighty slip his mind. He slowly softens the hard,
binds the wounded head, forces the weak to walk on warm grass.
And so I accept his fabric. If he gives me blue to wear, I will wear blue.”

Copyright ©2010 by Carolyn E. M. Gibney