“Leaving Van Gogh” has a stunning sense of the color of emotions feeding and fueling loneliness.
LEAVING VAN GOGH
Twilight, she feels her way down the museum steps
still dazzled by his apple tree, white against a blue as vivid
as the veins rising in her wrist.
Farewell to wheat fields and orchards,
farewell, St Marie de la Mer.
A painter for whom the landscape breaks
in slashes of yellow, blue, and green.
He cut off his ear for a whore, heard cries of women—
like birds wheeling overhead.
Over and over the sower throws out his arm
spilling the seed, and the sun
explodes from the horizon.
Waiting for her bus, she shivers
when someone’s coat scrapes her cheek.
The weight of bodies is no anchor against loneliness.
The bus heaves off. She overhears a couple
grown to look alike. The woman says,
“If you wanted to ask, you could have asked.
How do you think I felt?”
The man turns away.
She hears other voices. Years ago,
a widowed friend, alone, poor,
painting in a rented room, said,
“Color is all I have.”
Under stars hoisting blue balloons into the night,
a cypress tree whirls in exaltation.
The sower must continue in the field.
A peasant’s shoes gape, open pits
that claimed a life.
Cadmium yellow of joy
and its violet companion, grief…