Literature 9-8-2009

mnLIT presents: Kayla Skarbakka

This week's What Light winner, "Mary In Blue" by Kayla Skarbakk, was selected for the 2009 mnLIT cycle by poet Leslie Adrienne Miller.

What Light winner, Kayla Skarbakka
mnLIT: What Light Poetry Project and the miniStories flash fiction competition


on viewing Girolamo da Santacroce’s The Annunciation
at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Bearer of an empty womb, not-yet-mother, what can be said
of these last seconds of your autonomy?
At prayer (what else?) in an empty room,
you hold your peace, Mary in blue.

God, nodding his bearded head,
looks down and murmurs, That one, there
she’ll do.

And heaven comes.

There must be wind to rush the robes, rainbow feathers, music,
chords in angels’ open mouths and Gabriel’s horn
as he treads your floor, pointing up, calling to you:
you are irreconcilably spoken for.

Have you heard the news?

Paradise descends! God sings it,
angels sing it — clouds ring,
the room resounds.

On the ground, in your silent way,
demure, sedate, you sing it too.
Do you match their pitch?
Do you know your fate?

The baby, the baby,
an arrow of light
(all eyes watch; all breaths catch) —

the baby, the baby
pointed at you,

pointed at you,
Mary in blue.


About her poetry, Skarbakka writes: “What I love most about poetry is, I think, its incredible generosity of language, its playfulness, its subversiveness, its freedom — the fact that, despite its brilliant and almost (to the young writer, at least) daunting tradition, it still welcomes new voices to the chorus. And when I find myself floundering, as I so often do, the music continues on.”

About the poet: Kayla Skarbakka is a recent graduate from Augsburg College, where she earned a B.A. in English. She is a two-time winner of both Augsburg’s Engman Writing Prize for Poetry and the John R. Mitchell Academy of American Poets Prize, and in 2009 she won an AWP Intro Journal Award for poetry. She has served on the editing boards of two collegiate journals and has had a poem published in the Mid-American Review. She is interested in pursuing an MFA in creative writing, and is obstinately hopeful that she can put her degree to good use. 

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