Horns & Bloom

Horns & Bloom


After Georgia O’Keeffe’s
Ram’s Head with Hollyhock, 1935

Painting of the bones of a ram's head with a white flower next to it, on a desert background with blue sky.

suspended on a mantle
of tempestuous clouds
he dares you to turn—
turn away
from the stony
rock furrows of his skull
instead linger a moment
on the bud at his crown

what a difficult task
when in tilting your
chin to the canvas
it seems
you can hear the elliptic wind
wailing lost laments
through empty
clefts of jagged bone

and in raising your
head to that
marmoreal gaze
you can see all the earth’s
cupped in the hollow sockets
of his eyes

so it is with
caution you indulge
in the flower’s kind youth
as you only can think
of those horns—
how the hard sheaths
peel back at the bend
and how even white petals
someday wither
as they fall out of bloom

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