2 Poems by Catherine Garbinsky
featuring excerpts of letters written by Vincent Van Gogh
We lived together in the Yellow House,
and I filled the room with sunflowers,
pulled pigment from them like pollen.
I painted them yellow, and yellow, and ochre, and yellow.
I went for days without speaking.
Then I spoke too quickly and slurred my words.
My tongue became a brush.
Each stroke asked and asked and asked
the eternal question of colour that guides us.
At night I heard the yellow hum
across the walls, a lullaby with colour,
I heard it blooming bright.
In the morning I turned
my face toward the sun and the yellow.
There is some answer waiting for me in all of this colour
but I cannot find it. I cannot find it.
We will leave it to [the experts] to discuss
whether or not I have been
or still am— mad, fancy myself mad, or regarded
as mad in a flight of fancy
consisting only of sculpture.
I do not know if madness could be this yellow.
I think maybe I am a sunflower,
bristled stalk and filled with gratitude.
A Spell For Stretch Marks
I am tired skin stretched as far as it will—
peeling wallpaper, a groaning, a growing.
The sound of someone turning the page
of the newspaper. I am rose-scented oils,
I am orange juice dripping down a soft thigh.
I am audacious nipples, aching chest, the body ripping
as it is stretched taut. I am thighs that thunder
and chafe, a belly that booms. Little sneaky bites
of a maple glazed donut. A broken zipper,
buttons bursting off, jeans rubbed to shreds.
I am a wave that ripples and swells,
I am illuminated letters just beneath the skin’s surface.
Catherine Garbinsky is a writer living in Knoxville, Tennessee, currently studying for her MFA in Poetry at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. Catherine is the author of All Spells Are Strong Here (Ghost City Press, 2018) and Even Curses End (Animal Heart Press, 2019).