Van Goh's Prayer

Paula Goldman

    after Wheatfields with Crows, 1890


Let the crows fly from my heart,
dreams of destruction, exclusion, dreams
of inevitability, fantasies of power
and unreason. They feed of fear
and they feed of the desire
for a certainty, a frame, a skeleton
that fixes all things in the world.
The crows co-exist with heaven, hovering
around me a lifetime, harbingers
of gloom and death.  Their eyes are black
as their feathers, bright black.
They fly over sickled wheat fields
with roads going nowhere.
Of the three roads I have painted,
give me the one that leads to the sky
where I have stood unstintingly,
whence comes the peace I find
when I am working.  Let the dark blue
heaven have the crows, at once
my relief and resurrection.

From life, no road affords me peace,
only pain, the pain and the search for peace.
Loneliness was my creed except for my brother,
Theo, in whose arms I shall die.
So close, his belief in me. Yes, I wanted people,
turning myself like a windmill
gone haywire, cutting my ear,
swallowing paint, drinking absinthe.

Leave my heart, black crows,
let me be free, or are they coming,
their cawing calls, to rescue me?  

Paula Goldman's book, The Great Canopy, won the Gival Press Poetry award, and was honorable mention for the Independent Booksellers’ Award.  Her work has appeared in Oyez Review, Slant, Passager, Ekphrasis, Rattle, Prairie Schooner, Manhattanville Review, Cream City Review, Comstock Review, Harvard Review, The North American Review, Poet Lore, Poet Miscellany, and other magazines.  Her poems have appeared in Boomer Girls published by the University of Iowa Press, The Party Train: A Collection of North American Prose Poetry published by New Rivers Press and most recently, Conversation Pieces published by Knopf.  She was first prize winner in INKWELL's (Manhattanville College) poetry competition and the Louisiana Literature Award for poetry.  She holds an MA degree in Journalism from Marquette University and an MFA in Writing from Vermont College.  Former reporter for The Milwaukee Journal, she served as a docent and lecturer at the Milwaukee Art Museum. Her manuscript “Late Inamorato” was a finalist for the Gival Press Poetry Award.  New poems have appeared in Cæsura and Arlington Literary Journal and forthcoming in Calyx.  She is nominated for a Pushcart Prize 2017.