Journal of Writing & Environment

Georgia O’Keeffe, with Alfred Stieglitz [second meeting]


Two-thousand miles from Texas,

this is less an island than Brooklyn


dipping a prim toe into the grime

of Gravesend Bay. It is Decoration Day:


bunting and ticker tape, black-suited

bathers creaking the boardwalk.


Inland, we stroll the midway, where

grease rides the air as ochre foam


crusts the water. There is the tune

and hitch of player-pianos, penny


arcades; barkers touting the ring-toss,

the high-striker. “Two wallops


for a nickel, five for a dime. Win a Kewpie

doll for your cutie pie, an armadillo


basket for her arm.” Alfred offers

his arm instead. My fingers notch


in his elbow. The sky turns

cobalt threaded with ivory. Sun full


on my face. With the heat, something

surfaces. We walk; I listen; I talk


when seems called for, but all the while it

rests in my chest: not love, exactly—not


yet—but wanting, purely felt. He touches

my shoulder, steers me to the moment


the diving coaster car meets its shadow,

and my ribs compress around breath,


forming—What? I am back in Palo Duro,

a canvas collecting sack near to tearing


with chalcedony eggs whose outer plainness

belied inner holdings—manganese, copper,


chromium, quartz. The secret to geodes,

though, is to break them. Otherwise: fused


crucible, hollow repository. I watch

his mouth but do not hear what he’s saying.