“Oriental Poppies” is in my book, Gold, http://www.amazon.com/Gold-Poiema-Poetry-Barbara-Crooker/dp/1620329409 She’s always been one of my favorite painters. My newest book is Barbara Crooker: Selected Poems http://goo.gl/1sP72u
Georgia O’Keeffe, 1928
— for my mother —
Lit matches struck in the dark, road-flares
burning, these poppies smolder by the bird bath
where we brought my mother’s ashes
when her life wicked out. Each flower
is splotched with black, night at the heart
of burning day. Light shines through the petals,
translucent as skin. At the end, her bones shone through,
the skeleton wanting to dance. The poppies’ orange tango,
a wild fandango with the wind. Nothing in English rhymes
with this color, not porridge, not ordinary, not original.
We only have one mother. Reach for a blossom,
twirl it in your fingers, a dancer on an unlit stage.
Every gardener knows about loss: thinning, pruning,
the appetite of rabbits, how frost waits in the wings,
sharpening his shears.
The Western Canvas of Georgia O'Keeffe:
A Found Poem
from a PBS documentary
Why did you paint so many bones?
They pleased me.
I liked the way they looked
in relation to the sky.
Because there were no flowers
in the desert
I began picking up bones.
When I paint a flower,
I paint it big,
so they'll have to look at it.
I don't start until I'm clear;
it's a waste of time & paint.
Nothing is less real than realism—
the details are confusing.
I tried to paint what I saw.
If you work hard enough,
you can get almost anything.
My life's been a walk
on the knife's edge;
you might fall off either side,
but so what? I'd rather
be doing what I really wanted to do.
Credits: "Oriental Poppies" was first published in The Valparaiso Poetry Review;
"The Western Canvas of Georgia O'Keeffe: A Found Poem" first published in Yankee
©2015 Barbara Crooker