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2 Poems by Catherine Garbinsky

Sunflowers

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).

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