Miss O’Keeffe Makes Pea Soup

There is a bit of a bitch
in every good cook

I wrote in the flyleaf
of one of my cookbooks.

My body, that reservoir
of desire, lusts after the freshest peas.
At the thumb’s suggestion,
their crisp robes
slide open.

When my kimono slipped off.
Stieglitz photographed
my body, spring pea
supple
& smooth.

Defend the peas’ green identity.
Do not elaborate beyond broth,
onion, mint & salt. This soup
is folk song, not operatic chorus.

Old men of art wanted
my paintings muddy
& dismal. Like theirs. I say flattery
and criticism go down the same drain
and I am quite free.

Heat the soup slowly—
as slowly as rain clouds collect
along the spine of the Pedernal.
Shower with chives whose bite
reminds me how winter always returns.

If I were to come back
in another life,
I would be a blond soprano
singing high, clear notes
that shatter the bell jar of fear.

In this life I dress in black—
its voice does not argue—
so I can hear the colors of the hills,
& cliffs, the holes of bones,
the blue cadenza of the Chama.

-Susan J. Erickson

*Note: The quote by Georgia O’Keeffe appears in “A Studio Book” published by The Viking Press 1976. Previously published in Blast Furnace and will appear soon in Noisy Waters, an anthology of Whatcom County Poets.

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