Van Gogh’s Mad Cypresses
I don’t want to be buried under a cross, or preserved horizontally beneath a marble slab, or scuttled out amongst the sharks and seaweed, or mummified for the ages, or burnt on a Ganges raft. I do like country churchyards and cemeteries, especially the ones shaded by oaks or watched over by Van Gogh’s mad cypresses, or sheltered from the gray north wind by ancient poplars. I would be willing to spend eternity under an oak, or next to an anchored house of granite, but only if I were awake and alive and unthreatened by sanity. Let other seeds be planted. Let this seed be swept from the stones of the miller’s floor and into the singing stream.
Who are the living? Who are the dead?
And where have their spirits flown?
A feast awaits, the jars are full of wine.
We speak of children as if they belong to us,
as if we were not children ourselves.
We speak of our mothers and fathers,
our grandmothers and grandfathers,
as if we were not wise and old.
We speak of what we do not know,
and revel in the sound. Yet we fear the dark.
Let me stand watch with Van Gogh’s mad cypresses. Let me be bathed in the bright yellow sunlight dripping from his brush. I do not want to be buried under a cross, or constrained by blind geometry. A rusted coin will never cleanse a pharaoh’s mouth of dust. But I am willing to listen and wait forever, awake, alive, unthreatened by sanity.
March 18, 2005
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