Vincent Van Gogh, Self-Portrait

Monday, July 5, 2010

“I suffer from vertigo”

                       — Vincent Van Gogh, 1888


I recognize the look: neck tucked and still,
shoulders hunched, back rounded into a shell,
and the eyes held level as the world swirls
around him. Clouds wheel above cypresses
and wheat fields, hills and spires, everywhere
he turns. Saint-Rémy, Arles, the very air
of Auvers is a seething vortex. Even his room
lists, as mine does now though I am still,
though I hold my eyes level against the whorls
and loops of walls turning liquid everywhere
I look. Sometimes Van Gogh himself presses
by me on the stairs, hisses this is hell
when we stumble together. Or I see
his reflection flicker across windowpanes,
his face reveal itself when lilacs dance
in the garden, his form in the fluky space
where shadows flicker. I recognize his light
rippling like visible current under the sea
of night sky. Watch him paint through dazed pain
the turbulence of an olive orchard in space
crazed by kinesis. Go with him after light
spinning toward us in its quickening dance.

Thursday, July 1, 2010