Return to the main Vincent van Gogh Gallery page

Vincent's Daughter

by Josh Randall


At the Face To Face show,
in the last, darkest room
- June and July, 1890 -
filled with art school babes, old hippies,
swells in blazers, moms in wheelchairs,
hangs Child With An Orange.

It's one of the lesser-known
world-changing masterpieces
van Gogh turned out
at the rate of something like one
every other day
in his last thirty months in this world.

Arles's yellow brought north to Auvers,
mixed with soft blue
for background respiring plant life
and crimson right out of the tube
- Vincent's lunch! - for Child's orange.
Umber streaks throughout.

But mostly sweet sunny yellow.
As if he could just pour all his
sun, his yellow smiles and spheres
onto one small canvas
and talismanize away the wavy
dark purple creeping up to eat his ear.

She's small, five or six,
composed of spheres and arcs -
head, hair, blouse and skirt,
puffy peach fuzz cheeks,
her orange.
Her smile, the bravest half circle

in the world, inscribed into the paint
with a casual genius flick of the wrist.
Not slashed by a sharpened paint brush handle.
Her smile sits in answer to the ashen adulthood
of her eyes.
Does not deny them.

She smiles sweetly, sadly,
at her tasty Orange,
sometimes titled her Red Ball.
It could be her Blue Earth.
It didn't work for Vincent.
He shot himself behind a manure pile.

Dragged himself home like
a squirrel, struck in traffic, would drag
his new, paralyzed, hindquarters
home, to the woods. To the
only home he knew, or needed.
And us too late to swerve out of mercy to him.

Vincent told Doctor Gachet, "Don't
operate. Don't remove the bullet. If you do,
it will all have to be done all over again."
Goodbye, Vincent, thank you.
Maybe it worked for Child.
Maybe it'll work for you and me.

I hope it'll work for someone else's
daughter, a real live girl this time.
She stood with Dad in front of Child,
drawing Child, doing it right.
Seeing the circles and smiles
with a casual genius flick of the wrist.


Return to the Visitors Submissions page

Return to the main Van Gogh Gallery page