Winter Cottonwoods East V – 1952

“From experiences of one kind or another shapes and colors come to me very clearly.”
– Georgia O’Keeffe

She painted her canvas in my protoplasmic days.
Decades later
I drifted into its bramble of
burnt umber
raw sienna
mars brown
contradicting my assumptions of winter
disrobing them with her stark truths
so they could recline silhouetted
among naked trees.
She smudged branching crowns
but painted each cottonwood's body
with watchmaker precision.

She smudged branching crowns,
they haloed a deeper alchemy
each aerial poke
of Populous fremontii
sky with tree
I felt tree tips
fray like fabric in the wind
drawing breaths of magnetic mists
pulling apart ionic swarms
swooning for photic kisses
each arboreal moment titillating and redefined.

I come home from desert and canyon,
filled with cottonwoods and tammies.
Their halos have blurred
my edges; I toddle back
blessed with ambivalence,
freshly plied
by wild water
strong light, my tips
feathering sand and stars.
Her painting has replaced my mirror.
I am winter cottonwoods,
titillated and redefined.
Redefining home
where it's simple
to seek the old folds,
return like willow root grooved into granite.
Hard to make space
for new shoots.
Put away the pruning shears!

Now I pray for my rain forest
heart to sing with my desert edges?
Share the words for
Learn to paint in
burnt umber
raw sienna
mars brown.
Trust the naked alchemy
in my mirror of Georgia's trees.


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