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Nights at Saint-Rémy

Artwork by Isabelle Lu, staff artist

By Laurel Reynolds

Bright sun over tangled olive trees;

when I see yellow brush strokes,

I imagine you mixing every shade of yellow

from daffodil to mustard to gold.

I imagine you smiling.

This painting was always my favorite.

I was five and stared at it for what felt like hours.

4515 miles from Saint-Rémy, I was captivated.

I bought the postcard version

and saved it for years.

Now, I’m nineteen and Starry Night

sits above my window.

Your self-portraits line my wall.

I wish you could see how loved you are.

I paint you in all hues of yellow

and see your self-portrait at 80.

I would give you my left lobe

if it could bring you back.

I would give you back the postcard

and childhood wonder

if it meant you never needed

to spend a night at Saint-Rémy.

I imagine you pulling the paint from your stomach,

out of your hand, walking backward

from your asylum workshop;

saying hello to your “companions in misfortune”

as you leave your psychiatric room

for your house in Arles.

I would trade the almond blossoms

if you could have left okay.

In the field, did yellow rays

beat down on you? Was it night?

Did you count every star?

I would trade every painting

if it meant you walked away

from yourself unscathed.

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