Barbara Crooker: "Ears of Wheat, 1890"


     —Vincent Van Gogh

          I tried to paint the sound of the wind in the ears of wheat.
               —letter to Paul Gauguin

There is nothing here but wheat, no blade
too slight for his attention: long swaying
brush strokes, pale greens, slithery yellows,
the hopefulness of early spring. All grass
is flesh, says the prophet. Here, there are no
gorgeous azures stamped with almond blossoms,
no screaming sky clawed with crows, no sunflowers
roiling gold and orange, impasto thick as Midi sunlight.
His brush herringboned up each stalk, the elemental
concerns of sun, rain, dirt, while his scrim of pain receded
into the underpainting. He let the wind play
through the stems like a violin, turning the surface
liquid, a sea of green, shifting eddies and currents. 
No sky, no horizon; the world as wheat.


Barbara Crooker's books are Radiance, which won the 2005 Word Press First Book competition and was a finalist for the 2006 Paterson Poetry Prize; Line Dance, which came out from Word Press in 2008 and won the 2009 Paterson Award for Literary Excellence; More (C&R Press, 2010); and Gold (Cascade Books, a division of Wipf and Stock, in their Poeima Poetry Series, 2013).