Philippe Halsman's Photo of Georgia O'Keeffe
at Abiquiu, New Mexico, 1948


Christopher Buckley

This is what I have - a ghosted adobe ranch,
ironwood with mesquite, the smoke tree's buds
with their blue apology to heaven - the desert
in its every part saying loss, and then
these clouds shaping and reshaping the days
to say that loss and gain are nothing,
that flowers and bone are much the same,
that I'm welcome to whatever I find.

Rivers and an unseen shore, clouds hold over us,
that first enigma - the soul's white dust set against
our affinity for form, against the wind, and always
we are asked to step out of our dark coat and hat,
out of the little space that is the very earth,
in our last shirt formless as the flagstone
scattered across this yard, as these clouds thinning
like the end of all desires, and reminding us
that there are things we will never know.

Despite them, I know some small thing -
you choose a place and begin to work;
the sun divides everything into equal parts
and you adjust your eye, your heart,
and, one more piece of this light,
praise these bright, diminished reaches.

Or you come upon a cattle skull, its jaw
a lock of time turned skyward in the old silence -
still, your fingers sidle up to the blind eye and
bad teeth, and with a white scarf about your head,
with the simple language of sand, you start
to understand the dry blossom we are all becoming.

I have a ladder set to my roof from where
I can paint the moon, that dreamer's stone,
bone to bone as resourcefully as the clouds
or jimson weeds, as sparsely as the clock of stars.
God, I suppose, leaves us to our own designs
until we too are only remnants of this place.

From Blossoms and Bones by Christopher Buckley, Vanderbilt University Press.
© 1988 Christopher Buckley

Buy LIFEB. - American Artist Georgia O'Keeffe at her Ranch Home, 1966 (silver gelatin photograph) at
Georgia O'Keeffe at her Ranch Home, 1966 (LIFE)
John Loengard (silver gelatin photograph)
Buy From

Return to Day 7

Return to Day 9