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


I suppose because it is the most

interesting thing one knows to do.

O Georgia! Sashaying between

first base and shortstop as it were


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


certainly have to do the shopping.

Syntax, like sex, is intimate.

One doesn’t lightly leap from person

to person. The painting, you said,


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,


come out, stand up, be heard!

Poetry is like farming. It’s

a calling, it needs constancy,

the deep woods drumming of the grouse,


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)