Van Gogh’s Saint-Rémy
“ To try to understand the real significance of what the great artists, the serious
masters, tell us in their masterpieces, that leads to God.”
—Van Gogh, Borinage, December, 1878
How what’s beautiful blazes—
A drooping star,
An ochre sunflower
Crackling beneath its old glaze.
I stood in your room in Saint-Rémy,
The anguished bed stiff
On its points of lead, the obligatory
Desk as blank as canvas.
The world had already turned.
North light blazed all night
In my rented window.
Stars washed the horizon
Of villa stone.
Those I loved slept, the small fig
Of my heart withering—
As if baptismal, the tears
Unending, the wall of myself
Descending as yours did,
That painted cypress of The Starry Night
In the foreground of your Holy.
Everywhere, the light
Draws us past stone,
Past the wood shutters the wind flings—
The world carved and delirious
Beyond me, beyond you whom I see
Half listening now
Amidst a concavity of iris,
Of sea swirl,
The poppy mad for such utter destination.