Van Gogh’s ‘Moonrise’

What we know now is precisely where he stood, the painter,

his vision angled to capture the scene. Not seated at an easel,
straw hat half shielding his face, but at a distant high window.

Our perceptions have changed. ‘Sunset’ becomes ‘Moonrise’.
Eyes adjust to the early evening light, focus on the eastern sky.
As if we have always known it, we reclaim long-lost shadows.

Dusk begins to bloom in corners, taking edges off the field
where fat sheaves stand expectantly, violet, ochre, gold.
The stars tell us, as they have always told us; now we know

exactly when the painter saw the cornfield, how long his eye held
the view as light faded. The full moon taking her time, a too-heavy
woman climbing the sky, face flushed with the heat of summer.


A watery moon blinks through storm clouds,

eyeing the white ground with suspicion.

A sign that winter is passing,
as surely as the swallows, still a world away,
watch the shadows lengthen,

swarm in a tepid sky,
grow sleek, remember distance.

Inside the hive – silence.
A furry mass of bodies – tiny throb of stilled life,
the temperature of mid-summer.

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