Sun and Wheat Fields

Two Van Goghs I had never seen
made me overjoyed and then strangulated,
heated, excited, but cloistered and caged.
He committed himself to the asylum
and painted the asylum garden, gaudily green,
shiny surfaces, cool shadows, so you want
to feel those thick fronds between thumb
and index finger, thrusting, soothing,
palpable and overwhelmingly healthy, so
happy to be sanctuaried there, so peaceful,
and I thought of you with me in our groves,
our dells and glades, and those painted trees
made me feel cool and happy, smell our Russian olives
as the branches twisted above and around us;
I could hear again the sighing mourning doves.

The second picture was a large drawing,
Sun and Wheat Fields from his asylum window,
just that perspective, all brown toned, pencil,
sepia ink, thousands of wavy lines as the wind
blew through the dry field, the undulations
of the crop bending their tops, the brown sun
all crazed rays of nervous cross-hatchings,
all somehow hot and dusty, unable to escape
the sharp edges and corners of the field, the window,
the paper, the asylum window, the people
just beyond the edge watching Van Gogh,
watching us, keeping all those boundaries
straight, angular, tight, and sharp.

Constrained and edgy, I wanted to find you,
escape with you, you with your curves, with
your lush colors, exotic and earthy, and we¹ll take
your words, your happy dreams, we¹ll hide
under those beautiful wavy leaves in the first painting,
leaves thick as elephant ears, thrusting, soothing,
palpable, we¹ll find asylum just beyond the edges.

– leonard orr

View the drawing Sun Over Walled Wheat Field

View Meadow in the Garden of Saint-Paul Hospital