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Friday 24 May 2013

Sky Above Clouds

Sky Above Clouds iii
: Georgia O'Keeffe, 1965, oil on canvas

Solar emeralds melt and blend
In a slow flash flow
Silver eucalyptus sails above
Waves of lavender
We rise at daybreak
Light opens its pure brooch
Far out over the ocean
A machine of perfect touch

TC: Eos, from Air, 1971

Above the Clouds: Georgia O'Keeffe, 1962-3, oil on canvas


TC said...

Ok, so maybe you're thinking, How can that old skunk get away with putting up his forty-odd-year-old poems? Does he really think he can rely on Past Perfumance?

Nora said...

Leaping lizards! Le Peu!

Lovely post, poem et pictures, Tom.

Mose23 said...

slow flash flow

The rise and fall of these vowels in perfect rhythm.

Light opens its pure brooch

...and the garment comes loose.

The old skunk here could teach the young skunks a thing or two.

TC said...


Thank you very much and yes, now that you mention it, there is, as the Genius Loci has just helpfully pointed out, an uncanny kinship in artistic means and application that links up Georgia and Pepe -- in-ex-twick-abwy, as one of Pepe's studio colleagues might have put it.

"They both make good use of le paint."

TC said...

And thank you, Duncan -- my double dream of spring!

The cradle of vowels, endlessly rocking in the variable bliss of that prehistorical epoch.

About the garment slippage, can it be that in the confusing heat of the moment this eager poetling has mistaken a mere sun-up for a cosmic knees-up?

(I've heard they all go through that stage.)

By the by, talking of cosmic, G. O'K. made these paintings in her early seventies, after taking her first trip into the Empyrean... by plane, that is.

There was a time (1980) when I hatched a noble plan to move the poor exhausted family on again, from our last stop (Colorado) to Taos. The prospective new home which I had picked out but which never actually materialized had a majestic view out over fifty miles of the painted deserts of the Rio Grande Valley. O'Keeffe would have looked out over that same landscape every day through much of her working life.

Looking down upon it through the clouds for the first time, then, must obviously have made quite a grand impression.

Mose23 said...

Being British, there's double entendres everywhere ( as Pepe would have it). I come over all funny whenever I see a brooch.

TC said...

Well, there was some cheap gemological expedition or other going on much of the time. And too, perhaps a bit more innocently, there would have been the small child's barrette, lying about. But the image does lead one off... Not forgetting of course that the incorporation of hair and portraiture into the classic form of the brooch began as an expression of mourning before expanding into more general commemoration of those beloved. In Victorian times bits of ground human hair were worked into a pigment for le portrait. Un peu grisly if not indeed a mini grand guignol. Those Victorians, always taking a good thing a bit too far. Did I say good?

vazambam (Vassilis Zambaras) said...

re WB's comment: Sounds like the old skunk uses could skunk young skunks' tin ears any day.

Mose23 said...

One for the Wooden Girl's next birthday.

I do love those waterlily clouds.

Marie W said...

A pure breath of fresh Air. Those waterlily clouds will never be mistaken for smoke (ze olé smoke without le smell, thank you for the good laugh, Pepe). Shy Above Clouds. It is a perfurmance indeed. A theatrical act. I can see the stage machinery with its cables, lifts, pumping system, all in a continuous flow, melt and blend of colours and scent that make a day.
Pepe would agree, it smells wonderful, thank you....

Marie W said...

Oh no. I meant sky above clouds, not shy above clouds.

TC said...

Vassilis, I believe they award those tin ears at MFA commencement ceremonies; the ears are fashioned of course by the distinguished teaching faculty, who are as busy as Santa's elves all year round manufacturing these dearly-bought (if slightly hollow) prizes. The valedictorian, as I understand it, receives the additional bonus of a tin ear horn, plus a bucket of Flarf Brut on ice. (It's been reported that this year's ceremonies will include a piped-in PoemTalk by Hucklyeand Cinquor; tickets for the event may be purchased in advance at the special discount price of only an arm, a leg, and any lingering shred of conscience left over from early religious attendance upon les Teletubbies.)

With those floating clouds, I too thought of water lilies, while at the same time remembering that both Monet, looking down into and as if "through" water, and O'Keeffe, looking down though glass (the airplane window) upon the tops of clouds floating below, were seeing things with the "soft" (a nice way of saying "failing") eyes of an older person. A reminder that clarity is not everything.

And perhaps ze sight of ze shapely naked floating clouds has caused ze universe to blush just un peu and thus we see the sky above the clouds as being un peu shy. A rosé blush caused by slight embarrassment?

Descartes may have been caught out for being wrong in suggesting animals are nothing but machines (and indeed wasn't he missing the point of the universe entirely with all that myopic mumblety-peg cogitation re. egos and sums?), but to date I don't think it's been empirically shown that the sun coming up in the morning is not an ingenious mechanical occurrence designed by the Great Maker of Soft Clocks, intended to create the sort of natural timing required for Perfect Touch.

(BTW the silver eucalyptus sails are the undersides of the leaves of the towering eucalypti which presided over this scene, illuminated in the moment by ze first rays of le soleil -- though "sails" is meant to function here also as a verb -- and of course ze ocean is la mer eternelle, aka the North Pacific.)



Far out over the ocean
A machine of perfect touch

Thanks for this and yes, as Marie says, those "water lily clouds" and Monet's nymphéas ('seen' in years there at Giverny).


light coming into sky above still black
ridge, grass beginning to move in field
in foreground, sound of wave in channel

similar to motion of, light
compared to therefore

physical matter, particular
in that, by itself

silver edge of sun in cloud above ridge,
cloudless blue sky to the left of point

Robb said...

Beautiful, Tom.

TC said...

Great to be floating up here on the thermals with you, Steve and Robb.