Vincent painted yellow stars burning
black-eyed Susans in the lapis mosaic sky,
all the suns that swirled in whirlpools and
eddies through waters of the deep cerulean night.
Like some primitive miner going down
into darkness, he worked by the light
of bees wax candles blooming hot as midday
in the valley of his hat, worked intently as the
Santa Lucia child who will deliver
golden morning loaves to the world,
while behind him the ridicule of tavern crowds
troubled the air like wheat chaff in the wind.
Had I been Gauguin, I might have pictured
the Arles night ablaze with amber and
Vincent staring out toward the Rhone,
his brush of lightning
burning pigment into darkness,
and, in his hat, sunflowers of fire
blooming like astonished stars.

Copyright 2006,  Maureen Tolman Flannery

Maureen Tolman Flannery’s newly released Ancestors in the Landscape: Poems of a Rancher’s Daughter has been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Although she grew up in a Wyoming sheep-ranch family, Maureen and her actor husband, Dan, have raised their four children in Chicago.


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