Sunday, October 28, 2007

Starry Night

It was dark and late when I took Duncan to the park. The air, which hadn't been able to decide which temperature it wanted to be, finally settled on cold and our breath led the way. It had been a hazy night and the lights around the lake wore halos, cloudy and orange reflected on the dark surface of the water. I was thinking of how brilliant the sky is on clear winter nights in Pocatello, how I've stood on my mother's driveway late on a Christmas Eve and stared skyward in awe, the earth falling away from me, the night sucking the breath from my chest. I've never witnessed a sky like the one I can see from home. As we climbed the small hill above the lake I looked up knowing I'd see nothing but orange reflected off the haze, but at that moment, for only a few seconds, the mist cleared and I could see the night spread out above me and it took my breath away. We paused on the hill and gazed up at the Big Dipper and the "W" that is Cassiopeia, Queen of the Night, and all that space and time spread between them. I thought of that song by Don McLean, "Vincent (Starry, Starry Night)" and I was glad to be able to share it with Duncan, and even though he does know not the song or the painting, somewhere in his heart he understands the beauty of a moment.

Starry, starry night.
Paint your palette blue and grey,
Look out on a summer's day,
With eyes that know the darkness in my soul.
Shadows on the hills,
Sketch the trees and the daffodils,
Catch the breeze and the winter chills,
In colors on the snowy linen land.

Now I understand what you tried to say to me,
How you suffered for your sanity,
How you tried to set them free.
They would not listen, they did not know how.
Perhaps they'll listen now.

Starry, starry night.
Flaming flowers that brightly blaze,
Swirling clouds in violet haze,
Reflect in Vincent's eyes of china blue.
Colors changing hue, morning field of amber grain,
Weathered faces lined in pain,
Are soothed beneath the artist's loving hand.

Now I understand what you tried to say to me,
How you suffered for your sanity,
How you tried to set them free.
They would not listen, they did not know how.
Perhaps they'll listen now.

For they could not love you,
But still your love was true.
And when no hope was left in sight
On that starry, starry night,
You took your life, as lovers often do.
But I could have told you, Vincent,
This world was never meant for one
As beautiful as you.

Starry, starry night.
Portraits hung in empty halls,
Frameless head on nameless walls,
With eyes that watch the world and can't forget.
Like the strangers that you've met,
The ragged men in the ragged clothes,
The silver thorn of bloody rose,
Lie crushed and broken on the virgin snow.

Now I think I know what you tried to say to me,
How you suffered for your sanity,
How you tried to set them free.
They would not listen, they're not listening still.
Perhaps they never will...

1 comment:

Kevi said...

I love "the earth falling away from me, the night sucking the breath from my chest." The words are alive like Vincent's brushstrokes.

Recently (that means within the past ten years...I'm old) I heard an interview with a French woman who knew Van Gough. She was a little girl, and her father owned an art supply store.

She said he was always drunk and never bathed. Perhaps that is apropos for the slightly insane.