Sunday is the 155th anniversary of Vincent Van Gogh's birthday. In honor of his work, I am sharing this poem by James Magorian. It was first published in the Summer 2001 issue of The Literary Review.
The Wheatfield of Van Gogh
by James Magorian
The wheat is lifted, bent back like a trapdoor,
a searching, sweet reek of the past:
the paths--wet sticks poked into a fire--
hunter's bread, howl of flowers,
the earth red where the angelus bell is buried:
bright sorrow, light rattling
on the crooked stairway to the cloud-orchard,
that wheat, dependable chaos, ripening,
(stem rust, cutworms, 20 bushels an acre?),
that wheat, held open, scold
of color--whooping it up to no avail--
one torment like any other,
the body (a century of dark cellars,
all the hours huddled at the end of the day)
remembers, deepens, what is left
in dreams, desperate in an ashy intention,
that wheat, a warding off (time, pout of desire),
gruff yellow, molten oddities,
finished things, denials--the crows departing,
one field like any other.
Copyright 2001, Fairleigh Dickinson University. All rights reserved.