Van Gogh At Arles
Twelve simple chairs of blond wood with rush seats in a yellow house in the yellow light
slanting in from the south. Twelve chairs like twelve disciples in the vigorous sun, like
One larger dark chair, waiting for Gauguin. The master's chair—and in his
The plain of the Crau, the ancient cemetery, the women with their
classical Roman profiles, poplars, twelve rush-bottomed chairs, a crate of onions.
Working de tête didn’t suit him. He was made for the étude, quick strokes taken from
nature, accidents in pigment that shimmer.
But the mistral blew out the sun and forced
everyone indoors. Green shutters knocking against the sides of the yellow house. The
Arlésiennes pulling their dark shawls over their heads, clasping the wool tight at their
A self-portrait: the spartan chair is seen from above, as from a great height. It
looks hopeful, on a simple tile floor. Yellow, his color, but outlined in blue.
responsive to the object: to line and color. Style is more important than deliberate
composition. It does me good to do difficult things.
Kim Roberts is the author of three books of poems, most recently Animal Magnetism, winner of the Pearl Poetry Award (Pearl Editions, 2011). She is editor of the online journal Beltway Poetry Quarterly and the print anthology Full Moon on K Street: Poems About Washington, DC (Plan B Press, 2010). Her website: http://www.kimroberts.org.