A man of sorrows dreams in sunflower, 1889 by Naomi Kim

                               for Vincent van Gogh


He held his severed ear in his hand. Divorced now from sound, it looked lonely. It hardly weighed more than a whisper, a lone word of pain cradled in the palm of his paint-flecked hand. There was nothing that could be done. O sacred head, now wounded. In his dreams, a sunflower blooms from his wound, its petals like sunbeams. He is haloed with light. Beatific, he awakens. He is the artist. He is the art. The palette is his plate, his brush his spoon. The palette is his palate, the taste of turpentine thick and yellow on his tongue. He will grow more sunflowers—out of his eyes, his mouth, his remaining ear.


Hands pull the brush from his own. They want to starve him. Yellow paint scars his palms, drips in gold down his forearms. They are calling for the doctor. He does not want the doctor. He would like the florist. Could they call the florist? He would like to lay his head on the florist’s lap and say, please clip this flower from my head. O sacred head, what glory. He would like to place the sunflower in a vase and set it there, in the rectangle of light on the floor. He would like it to keep him company.

Naomi Kim’s writing appears in Lunch Ticket and LETTERS. She also has an essay forthcoming in Deep South Magazine. Sometimes, she is mistaken for a Midwesterner.

Photo by Dhanashree Chavan (remixed)