Cincinnati Museum of Art – early 2000s sometime

Van Gogh was on my
right hand side
next to the door.

The red against ash white
tree trunks
shared words with 
my soul
from across the room.

The only thing I could see.  
Closest I’d ever be
to the man who felt life
from the aching inside out.

Not the victim of it.
Life a victim of him.
Lopped off an ear for love.
He did.

That’s love, I reckon.

Docent three steps ahead
turns corner out of the room.

Van Gogh took my hand.
Let me show you,
he says.

Raised strokes
from feet away.

Layer the paint.
Life is layered.
Layer the paint, 
and it breathes 
like you and I.

By my wrist,
he lifted my hand.
Feel, he says.

With fingertip, I glaze
decades of time.
A tree painted 
by a man so alive
he was called mad.

Shh, he says,
nothing is dead.
Time is rhythm
The signature of beating heart
slowed to the rate of decaying paint.

I did it.
It slowed for me.
It slows for you too.


Weak in the knees,
I grab the door facing.
Scan the room to see
if anyone saw me
in my nakedness.