Gris-Gris, an online journal of literature, culture & the arts

Van Gogh’s Trees

by Jan Lamberg

Some days his trees gather like
Matisse’s femmes, limbs overstepping
a circle of fire, hair knotting.
One tree, solid of trunk, its lowest branches
too brittle for swinging,
points toward a last day,
its chlorophyll seeping
through cracked bark, layers of
sap-flaked cadmium
congealed onto rumpled linen sheet.

Most others reach through daybright planets & stars;
they’re living stumps offering corkscrew embraces,
wrinkling, saggy like absinthe women
of the Quartier latin;
his trees bear fruit, olives and almonds shimmer as
+earthworm and grubs distilled while
+roots are catapulted into indigo-bunting sky.

If hands pray, his paintbrush fingers
expand as phantom limbs through
an armature of white-hot tornados;
while other hands pray, his eyes scour Provence,
her byway-slim cypress hedging
apron-bleached plane trees
touching peasants bent reaping.
His trees overwhelm patients, asylum sentinels
alike—groves of mistral-frothed apricots
dripping their subtropical nectar while
earth’s seismic orgies raze the night
& Midi’s broad sunstrokes resurrect—

+small wonder they could trim
+his beard only while

++++++++he slept.