I’d like to try my hand
at painting sunflowers
in the manner of O’Keefe:
vast canvases of turquoise sky,
perhaps a stretch of yellow corn,
and then those flowers—
the guardians of gardens.
Flat faces like Kansas Swedes.
Golden. Stalwart. True.
Petal is too small a word
for those fat blades
like butter knives
around the center—
a black pie of seeds like tears—
with leaves like green spades.
They form tall pyramids.
Bordering the squash and pole beans,
They march against the sky.
Don’t call me to look at roses,
although they have their grace.
Sunflowers rise over red tomatoes;
green cucumbers climb their stalks
and so do violet morning glories.
Sunflowers bend over sweet summer.
They shine with the hottest suns.
In 1968, Mary Dudley moved from Stony Brook, New York to Albuquerque, New Mexico. She moved to the South Valley in 1970 where she and her husband have taught school, gardened, and raised their two daughters along with sheep, goats, and chickens. They still live there.