Number 395 (Ghost Ranch, Abiqui, New Mexico)
“Sometimes you can only say with color what you cannot express in words.”
By Debbie Theiss
My camera’s shutter clicks a fourth, then fifth photo,
the lens attempts to capture Ghost
Ranch; its burnt shades on folding mountains,
red-brick mudstone, tan sandstone.
But snapshots blur the lone cottonwood,
bent as if quenching its thirst in a spring, wearing a crown
of harvest moon. Autumn foliage hides its branches.
Golden-red and tangerine-yellow leaves blush in the setting sun.
I pick up my journal, write pasty phrases unequal
to saturated hues of the tree. Then, I remember O’Keefe—
her color chart—over 500 colors, always with her as she paints.
I note 395, 397, 398.
Anecdote: Georgia O’Keefe first came to Ghost Ranch in 1934 and continued to live part of the
year there for most of her life. Ghost Ranch with its red and gray hills, red and yellow cliffs, and
the flat top mountain, Pedernal, became a favorite subject in O’Keefe’s landscape paintings.
Debbie Theiss (Lee’s Summit, MO) grew up in in the Midwest and finds inspiration for her poetry in the unfolding art of daily life and nature. She has poems published in I-70 Review, Skinny Journal, Kansas Time and Place, Interpretations IV & V, Connoisseurs of Suffering: Poetry for the Journey to Meaning from University Professors Press, Weaving the Terrain from Dos Gatos Press, and other journals.
Featured image by Paul Asman and Jill Lenoble / CC BY