The Largeness of Flowers
“...So I said to myself--I’ll paint what I see--what the flower is to me,
but I’ll paint it big and they will be surprised into taking the time to
look at it.”--Georgia O’Keeffe
(after A Poetry of Things, San Francisco Legion of Honor exhibition)
Rising into a day shivering in a rare western gray,
clouds run ragged by wind and rain across the range,
even hottentot sun cups curl inward upon themselves
and I become afraid the world might turn to black and white
so I make my way to you, Georgia, inside a gallery garden
filled with the largeness of flowers, a poetry of things.
Like you I love to linger inside the bud and fold of color
upon those petal palettes, whole continents of blooms swelling
in a garden party of the grand. I think as I look in, how can you say
there is no sex in the fiery poppy, no birth in its blood rich petals,
no thought of death inside the deep and dark center, no drama
in these big beauties that dizzy and dazzle as any first love might.
You say these flowers mean nothing more than their own largeness,
lines spiraling in upon themselves and taking their natural course.
What starts beneath the soil line appears above the ground
then plucked by you, you bequeathed them to these gallery walls.
On my wall, your wild iris blazes and poppies swell like bodies,
like any love at first sight might in a new found intimacy.
You say none of this means anything, that they are simply flowers
and big. But in the largeness of flowers I can almost see the blood rich
petals of my own mother’s lips as my head tunneled past
the spread wren bone, she a sky adrift in twilight clouds like a city
a blur in fog, the sun setting down, unaware of her own pain or of me.
My mother is dead. You are dead. The flowers return. All really big.
A garden party of the large, colossal, mammoth, but only flowers
pushing their stubborn heads toward the incessant chatter of birds.
Previous Publication Credit: Rattle: 15, Poetry for the 21st Century