Arsenic Lobster poetry journal Issue Twenty-eight
Spring 2012
Black Cross

(After “Black Cross—New Mexico 1929” by Georgia O’Keefe)
Janet A. Baker

I’d like to know why Georgia O’Keefe
painted those yellow and red stripes
under each armpit of the black cross
that fills three-quarters of the canvas

below that bleeding line
her mountains turn to fluffy gray
roiling, rather lava-like,
stirred up but subdued

and her cross, a stiff body,
arms and legs cropped
the black torso dominates the earth

I had assumed the stripe of fire
was sunset underneath the stretched arms
but that does not explain the short band
of blue above the shoulders

and I can’t tell
if the cropped torso faces us
its heart exposed
its black nothingness saying
“Here. Hit me here.”

or if her back is turned to us
while she faces the glorious ball
of setting sun
that she keeps for herself

About Janet A. Baker

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