Georgia O’Keeffe & the Opening
This is a painting of a flower, up close. The petals are the colour of sun setting over mountains, element bleeding into element. Land / water / space. Contrast in the desert, a place I have never been. The thirst of it.
Once a friend asked me what it feels like. I don’t know, I told him. It feels like if you find yourself in the right place at the right time. If you find yourself at a party in love, or lust, either is worthy, I think. If you look across the room and you meet their eyes and you find pleasure in the tethering process, the tension. If you like the experience of being fully tongue tied. When you no longer want to stand up straight, and you no longer have to. It feels like slow and wild pressure / presence /like being known.
But I don’t think this answered his question.
I have gravity, and you are in my orbit. When was the first time I realized I had this? I don’t know, really. Can’t remember. I spin slowly, with intention.
Let me reel you in.
If you have to ask the question of why, why it was necessary for me to write this. Then you’ve already answered your own question.
Her husband took black and white photos of her hands, sewing, on dark coloured satin. She makes one hand like a spiral, each finger curled around the place where the needle enters. The other grasps the material slightly and waits, middle finger protruding and capped with a thimble.
And this is how I know I want someone. I keep looking at their hands.
I think you should say the words. All of them. I think you should say them into my ear, now. I will protect you from your shame. We can take it off together / the careful way you take off your coat.
Georgia O’Keeffe said that her paintings were flowers, and only flowers. In the early 1920s, her work was being reviewed exclusively by men, who wanted to see something sexual, she thought. She felt that women critics would take the subject matter more seriously, less anatomically.
I feel that the paintings are not of flowers or vaginas, but of opening. And opening is a serious matter.
Katy Scarlett is an educator, nonfiction writer, and poet from New Jersey. She earned her MFA in creative writing from Virginia Commonwealth University and her MA in art history from Hunter College, CUNY. Katy's writing is published or forthcoming in Blackbird, Michigan Quarterly Review Online, Hunger Mountain Review, CRAFT, Cimarron Review, and elsewhere.
The Ekphrastic Review
Join us on Facebook: