Other Wind
04 / January04 / January04 / January

Vincent’s Holy Eyes

What does it mean to live?
Am I alive or merely breathing?
When I think of you I know
I pulse only on the brink of life.

We glide around this world
burying beneath layers of comfort
the one thing that makes a difference
between life and breath.


Attune to every pore from which it beams or seeps,
you find it in all things.
It feeds you.
You live through it,
fearing nothing.

You darken your face with coal when it leads you to the mines.
The others there are not monsters,
but stars to be nourished by the sun that burns in you.
You look to the stars in heaven also,
knowing they sustain you and keep you humble.
You live in ultimate bravery,
stunned each moment by the same force that arms you,
full of so much life your flesh cannot hold
against the pressure that pushes you home to the sky.

I cower.
I shut out this beauty with more important things
and rest in peace,
noticing only every now and then
the stars that shine above me.

—-I wrote this poem several years ago after reading some letters from Vincent Van Gogh to his brother, Theo, and after finishing Lust for Life (a novel about Van Gogh) by Irving Stone. I haven’t written anything new in a few weeks, so in an attempt to get back in the mood, I was organizing my writing files on our iBook the other day. I opened this poem’s file and re-read it. It is a bit melodramatic, but it reminded me of the tenderness and sorrow that I felt for Van Gogh after reading about him. I wish more people would learn about his life rather than minimizing his whole existence to a missing ear.