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Winter 2016 Poetry Contest Winner & Featured Poet: Kersten Christianson

kerstenKersten Christianson is a raven-watching, moon-gazing, high school English-teaching Alaskan. She earned her MFA in Creative Writing/Poetry through the Low-Residency Program at the University of Alaska Anchorage in 2016. Her recent work has appeared in Cirque, Tidal Echoes, Fredericksburg Literary & Art Review, Inklette, On the Rusk, We’Moon, Sheila-Na-Gig and Pure Slush. Kersten co-edits the quarterly journal Alaska Women Speak. When not exploring the summer lands and dark winter of the Yukon Territory, she lives in Sitka, Alaska with her husband and photographer Bruce Christianson, and daughter Rie.


Le Creuset

The Earth spins west
to east. A waxed
patchouli moon,
carves a sucker hole
through nimbostratus.

Is this the dawn
of leaf-dropping
rains, of gale,
of a season’s

My mother-in-law
stands at the sink
in my kitchen.
At 72, her shoulders
arc crescent;

they are warm
under the curve
of my palm.
She marvels
at the Caribbean

blue of my new
frying pan,
too heavy to hang
from the pot rack.

Her hands, timeworn,
furrowed like the thoughts
carried on her brow, they hew
the cloud cover of suds,
scour clockwise.

Wooden Boardwalk

the carved path
through estuary
each step
a whorl, a knot;
even passage
on dry wood.
here is bloom:
pink of salmonberry,
yellow candle
of skunk cabbage.
blue heron wades
in the shallows
where sea
and river
here is gust
chased by sun.
words do not drop
from beard lichen
into my open journal.
they form in my mouth,
rattle around my tongue,
fall from my hand,
land on smooth paper.


My Facebook feed is filled this week
with full moon images,
the news of a weekend lunar eclipse.

I’m never quite certain
what time these events actually occur –
you know, an eclipse in Alaska time and all –

but in the circle
of my cast iron griddle
bubbles the first crêpe of the morning.

Like a Jesus image
imprinted on the heel of sliced bread,
this thin, gauzy pancake sports a crescent moon

in its cooked, cratered surface.
Valleys and peaks catch
the dip and lilt of my daughter’s questions:

       Mama, is this your grandma’s recipe?
       Mama, was your grandma Danish?
       Mama, is this Grandma Sharon’s recipe?
       Mama, did she find the recipe from the Internet?

The recipe is ours.
Moon in my kitchen, lineage
by crater; it is the one thing I know well.

At the Southern Entrance of Lynn Canal

Wind keens shrill, constant
through the ferry’s forward lounge.
At Eldred Rock lighthouse,
snow collides and slides
the expanse of windows facing bow.

Snow drifts on deck.
It pools in the bulwark;
piles in the dark shadow
of rail, trunk and post;
it disappears into the nip of rough sea.

Time and again this
enters our story.
This howling wind, northern squall
long ago loneliness
illuminated by sound,
swallowed like tea.



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