RED POPPY (1927)
(from a painting by Georgia O’Keefe)
‘The meaning of a word
is not as exact
as the meaning of a colour’
So she walks out of the rectangles
of hard, crowded America
and floods the skies over southern plains
with carmine, scarlet,
with the swirl of poppy-silk.
There is music in it, and drumbeat.
You can put out the sun with poppy,
lie in long grass with beetle and ladybird
and shade your eyes with its awnings,
its heart of charcoal.
Wine glasses held to candles
or your veined lids against the sun.
The waters open for a million years,
petal after petal in the thundering river,
stamens of flying spray at its whirlpool heart.
Red mountain where the light slides
through the beating red of every Texas dusk,
and dark earth opens in a sooty yawn.
She paints out language, land, sky,
so we can only look and drown in deeps
of poppy under a thundering sun.