Black Iris

AFTER THE PAINTING BY GEORGIA O'KEEFE

Dark, imposing flesh. Darker still
its center, like the tongue of
a cow that has for a week now been
dead, spent during calf-birth, and the calf
still clinging to her, and his own tongue
wild for want of milk, and the calf
with flies in his eyes—that color: near-to-
purple, bruised.  I should call it
beautiful, or beauty itself, this dark
room, broom closet, this nigger-dot.
I should want to fit into it, stand up in it,
rest, as would any beast inside a stable.
I should want to own it, force it mine,
to know it is my nature, and of
course don’t I? Why shouldn’t I want?
  
Black mirror. Space delicate
and cracked. Now anything could
go in there: a fist, veined, fat.
A body. And here runs the blood
through the body, deep, watery.
And here runs the message in the blood:
This is it—fuck her fag like you’re supposed to.
And when the wind shakes
and when the iris shakes in it,
the lips of the flower shaping
to the thing that invades it, that will be
me, there, shaking, my voice shaking,
like the legs of the calf, who—out of
fear? out of duty?—is sitting by his dead mother
because what else will he do, what else
has he? Because a voice outside him makes him.
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Rickey Laurentiis
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