Georgia O’Keefe used to baby-sit

Georgia O’Keefe used to baby-sit.
When I was little I stayed with her at her place;
we played checkers and watched the Three Stooges
through the snow on her television
out at the Ghost Ranch.
Her favorite show was Andy Griffith;
she thought Floyd the barber was dadaistic.
I didn’t know what that meant but I would nod
enthusiastically—
anything to make her happy.

I liked her.
I liked to watch her move.
I liked the way she tilted her head and studied the air,
and how standing in the sunbeam she could be all

bronze and stone and soap and bread and wine.

She showed me thrilling, flowing paintings
which she said were close ups of different flowers
AND NOTHING ELSE, GODDAMN IT;
she said it just like that, all caps.
I had no idea what she was talking about
being only nine or so,
but then David Hockney
snuck in my bedroom one night
and proved that she used a camera obscura
to cast her crotch onto a canvas.
Then she colored it up
like irises and stuff to hide it from people.

So now I don’t trust anybody anymore

—Don Whittington


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