The Culture of the Impractical

for Georgia O’Keefe’s Oriental Poppies, 1928

When I saw those flowers
clustered in the hot labyrinth of obsession
I felt an urge to venture closer, sliding on black stones
iridescent with scum-tinged ooze;
a need to make my gender notorious; to inhale
the acrid, desperate fumes of dark anxieties
and translate those heavy pheromones for nose-deaf crowds.

Sated by the imperceptible breathing of foliage,
feeling buds expand and dwindle under a naked, freckled moon,
I held a curled lip so it arched back between finger and thumb
and waited for a lascivious tongue to speak to me
in the abstract language of function.

If when I nuzzled those ruffled fragrances
the engulfing petals were to ripple, once, and take me down,
sluiced with a swallow of sticky nougat drip
to the viscous bulge caught in each calyx;
there in the darkroom evening of destruction,
swirling the nightmare negative of decay in sweet liquid;
there would I develop the intentional duplicity of life.

©2000 F.J. Bergmann

"The Culture of the Impractical" appeared in Beauty/Truth Vol. 1, #1.

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