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A Calling, By Maxine Kuman

Over my desk Georgia O’Keeffe says

I have no theories to offer and then

takes refuge in the disembodied

third person singular: One works

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I suppose because it is the most

interesting thing one knows to do.

O Georgia! Sashaying between

first base and shortstop as it were

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drawing up a list of all the things

one imagines one has to do. . . .

You get the garden planted. You

take the dog to the vet. You

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certainly have to do the shopping.

Syntax, like sex, is intimate.

One doesn’t lightly leap from person

to person. The painting, you said,

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is like a thread that runs

through all the reasons for all the other

things that make one’s life.

O awkward invisible third person,

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come out, stand up, be heard!

Poetry is like farming. It’s

a calling, it needs constancy,

the deep woods drumming of the grouse,

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and long life, like Georgia’s, who

is talking to you.

From “An Anthology of Great U.S. Women Poets 1850-1990: Temples and Palaces,” edited by Glenn Richard Ruihley (The Mosaic Foundation: 586 pp., $50)


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