after ‘Still Life: Vase with Twelve Sunflowers’
January 1889 Van Gogh
Severed from my roots, I don’t have long to paint a
of this blue-smocked man, palette knife in hand.
In this dark-moon chamber he darts with to and fro
frenzy, enough to unseat stars, set them spinning.
Fiery stubble claws around the edge of his bandage,
to overheat, feed his fever, consume him.
Black eyes, like crows over a wheatfield in constant
are stark against the landscape of his face.
He daubs yellow, not of sun, but nicotine, bruised skin,
sallow chair nursing only pipe and pouch.
I search for anything to ease my disquiet in this space
bereft of warmth, bee hum, dance of breeze.
What kind of man is this that turns his back towards
the light, whose face doesn’t follow the sun?