Yellow, purple, lavender, vanilla,
russet, blue coloured irises
in gardens up the hill
and down—miniature ones,
large, bearded varieties—
hued from rust to dusty brown;
golden sunshine to palest lemon;
robin's egg to midnight indigo.
This the flower Van Gogh painted
with energetic brush strokes
as if the flowers were in motion—
life force bursting from iris
to canvas to viewer—nothing tidy
about this flower that grows in a clump
of colour and movement and vigour.
It was as if the fleur de lis
seared through his mind, stirred
his emotions to the point
of pure creativity: natural beauty
betrayed by his own incapacity
for tranquility or forgiveness.
The struggle between painting and object
seemed to change from passion
to anger and finally to rage
as he measured the distance
between his rendition and nature.
In a gesture of rational anger, he
sliced at his ear—although
beauty had entered through the eye—
it wasn't silence he needed
but blindness—where the blue
of iris, the blaze of sunflower
could not burn into his brain.
In the act of shooting himself,
he sought the darkness—
but when he lingered at the edge
of life, sight did not shut down
immediately: he complained
perfection was not possible
to attain, not even in death.
Copyright by Carolyn Zonailo: www.carolynzonailo.com,