Finalist for the 2013 Walrus Poetry Prize
G. O’Keeffe is invited to the Islands by Dole to paint pineapples.
They want someone who understands the hard poke
of deciduous hunger. Or they want someone
who can turn stomach acid into the lost translations
of What a Woman. Bright, bright. Lots of nipples hanging off.
Might mention “the smell of cut fruit
on the blade of a knife” is the memo from the desk
of some ad exec to the effect of.
G. O’Keeffe paints engorged scarlet ginger hanging
off the sky’s blue tree. Paints the shuddering
inner lives of hibiscus and plumeria.
Oh! green crevasse tongued by silver streams.
Doesn’t paint a single pineapple so they send her home.
Back in New Mexico, with the desert foaming around her,
G. O’Keeffe remembers the Islands.
The sea is bigger than the box it comes in, she thinks,
what it means to say “Goodbye, dear one. Wish you were.”
She finally paints it, her mild and doleful
pineapple of the mind.