Though I spent much of my visit to The National Gallery
in tears, surprised by my reaction to even vaguely familiar
, ultimately religious canvases by artists known and unknown
, I was not prepared for Room 43, when before entering
I caught a glimpse of two by Van Gogh, hanging
—incredibly—on a wall, as plain as any other painting
, but within spitting distance of my corporeal self
, so I immediately retreated to the stairwell, attempting
to compose myself by way of the simple allure
of mundanity, the roll of fire hose, also hanging on a wall
, and no less important than sunflowers or crabs.
I touched the cool metal wheel, painted red so as to be noticed
in an emergency. A reminder: This was an emergency.
It calmed me, and I had the foresight to snap a photo
, a memento of my raw emotion, a tranquil moment
, my last of the day, after which the tsunami undertow
pulled me back to the room filled with impossible color
, none so simple as “red.” Here the ridiculous
brushstrokes unwound me in great, heaving
, amniotic sobs, imagined, dreamt, promised
: from now on I will be awake and screaming.