Bouquet of Flowers in a Vase–William Snyder

Vincent Van Gogh



He leans against the jamb, flicks a thick, damp

brush. I point to the flowers. I gathered

them for you, I say, and in your white vase,

yellow chrysanthemums, and white ones,

with some pink and red what-are-they-calleds

up in front. He pinches the brush

in a cloth, looks at the flowers—my work, says,

Lord, more flowers. Another bouquet. Another

canvas to fill. Another perfumery. If we could

sell the scents, we could drink wine

for a week, eat liver and duck

with the change. Well, I say, I thought

you’d love them. Lord, he says. Chrysanthemums,

carnations, zinnias, gladioli, poppies,

sunflowers, irises, and lest we forget,

fritillaries. Fritillaries. I could cry. But he

sets the easel, mounts a canvas, opens

tubes, taps the pallet, paints the bouquet with

the brushes he’s cleaned—the wall darkened

to purple-blue, vertical slips of mustardy yellow,

the flowers muted as he goes, and the vase,

even the pinks and reds, though now

they’re low on the bottom—a better place,

I admit. But despite his complaints and reticence—

jesting, I hope—and despite the soft

and powdery tints—maybe a mood—he has

made these flowers ascend, and softly glow

in the resonant lens of the world’s bright eye.

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