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Kathryn Winograd

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

Kindling funereal

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.