Van Gogh, After an Attack by Bob Bradshaw

Van Gogh, After an Attack

Theo, I’m doing better.
The attack came like thunder

out of a clear sky.
For weeks I couldn’t think straight.

What I need now
is the distraction of work,

and quickly:
the trees’ flowering season

is nearly spent.
When will I be allowed

to paint outside? The creamy
blossoms of almond trees,

and the pinks of the flowering
plum trees, awash

in the afternoon mistrals,
will soon be lost.

These mistrals can shred a man
like thistle.

On the day of my attack
I was supporting my easel

with big rocks,
the canvas trembling.

I finished the painting
in a fog:

it was as if my brushstrokes
were birds who knew

instinctively where
to fly to.

I am sending you a number
of rolled up canvases–

blue hills and yellow cornfields
under a lemony sky

viewed from my window.
You must frame them in white

like brides, their future
ahead of them.

by Bob Bradshaw

Editor’s Note: Art lovers will recognize this poem’s narrative—Van Gogh writing to his brother Theo. This poem bridges the gap between words and the imagery that informed so much of the artist’s life.

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One thought on “Van Gogh, After an Attack by Bob Bradshaw

  1. Several years ago, I took my mother to see “The Van Gogh Collection” on loan from Amsterdam to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. It was an unforgettably moving experience. The recorded narrative introduced me to the “Van Gogh Persona” of Vincent and his brother, Theo, as well as Theo’s remarkable wife, Johanna. This prompted me to purchase and read, “Dear Theo,” the collection of Vincent’s letters to Theo, a virtual autobiography of events and thoughts that shaped the artist and his Art. This poem channels an important section of that narrative poignantly and vividly. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

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