Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Van Gogh yellow


It wasn't absinthe or digitalis
in the Yellow House the two of them shared
that led him to layer the chrome coronas
or yellow the sheets in the bedroom in Arles
or tinge the towel negligently hung
on the hook by the door, or yellow the window,
be it distant view or curtain, yolk-lick
the paintings on the wall by the monkish bed.
No, it wasn't sunstroke or the bright light
of Southern France that yellowed the cafĂ© terrace
at the Place du Forum, a pigment
intensified by the little white tables, the white stars
in a blue sky, the deep saffron floor, it wasn't
some chemical or physical insult that stained
the vase with twelve sunflowers a urinous
yellow, the water in the vase yellow,
also the table under the vase--such
a troubled life of yellow leading up
to Vincent's hurled wineglass arousing
Gaugin's rapier to sever his best friend's ear,
the story they made up that Vincent lopped it
off himself, wrapped it, ran down the road
to the nearby bordello, where his favourite whore
opened her present and fainted. He would
have bled to death if Gaugin hadn't hauled him
to hospital next morning. Even in 'Self Portrait
with Bandaged Ear," his necessary colour washes in
despite greatcoat and pipe. Science has a word--
xanthopsia--for when objects appear
more yellow as they really are, but who's
to say? As yellow as they are, they are.

- Maxine Kumin published in the New Yorker

Sweet dreams shawl in Frank Ocre Malabrigo lace

Chartreuse green used to be my colour of choice, but lately I've been tending toward Van Gogh yellow. It's got more kick.

I've created a board on pinterest with all the Van Gogh paintings mentioned in the poem.

Follow Mikal's board Xanthopsia on Pinterest.