France on Canvas: Sketches
I: Van Gogh
Its “vine-clad hills”
in glowing bromine, the Roman ruins of Burgundy
in a crumbled tumbling of rock
Deeper down l’Hexagone,
in heavier-heated Arles
blotching into yellow under the eye, under Van Gogh’s brush,
and the radiating rays
as outgrowth bristles and sprouts about the
sun-baked stones Romans set down –
now cast into complexifying ruin
in part by the constant of time –
the landscape incubates; desiccating
colour palettes enrichen
and drench under
the weight of torpidity.
On fields with their compacted bales
of hay is positioned Van Gogh,
the colour-palette toasting under rays
captured in the scene into
the cusps of the light spectrum shimmer in the Arles summer;
in autumn will be sudden showers –
apparitions of stone in sulphurous mist
(the walked way arenaceous).
The land, all the while, ochres –
in a fug of cricket-ticking,
sitting low in the terrain,
dissimulated and disguising into the plain –
a stretch of perception saturates and expires.
Back at Burgundy,
in the immersion of this stimuli,
where unkempt vegetation
whiskers the silence of stone,
and that stone has dislodged and dislodges from itself
into these separations and relative entities
strewn to a ruined universe pulled apart by time
in the forms of splittings and fissurings
(and still subject to its pulling and violences):
reality-ending destructions quite invisible to the human eye.
This cosmological constant and compound
oppositional forces integral to each other
remain bound in an agon together.
In disintegration, astonishing beauty
informed by previous symmetry.
Augustine gates, majestic, remain
still slow-destructing and cosmogic in the atmosphere,
retain degrees of symmetry in white heat:
a monument of discipline and detail.
The hard-surfaced substance
as the evening frizzles and frazzles
into an horizon of sunburst and stardust:
the vista is stellar;
celestial radiation pours over lines of vines.
As the hours elapse, and the globe’s angle pulls,
russet blends and bends to yoke-yellow
through a warping and blurring of colours.
Oppression occupies the space,
and burgeons within it.
This streams out from its nuclear source,
onto this grass, and
enhances in this scene: the ridges of the amphitheatre –
where the curves and angles are pock-marked out of symmetry –
and the cohesion continues to split and rubble-out
in jumbled tumblings of rock.
Fleet-footed angel at Domaine de la Romanée-Conti.
Craggy Normandy, its jagged
face outwards at the billow of
slashing lapping waves;
it moves and settles and moves
under Monet’s gaze.
Above and beyond them
there is overcast, itself in motion – clouds resettling
in fast interspersion
above windswept detail.
As the sky darkens and the wind picks
up further, the
water has opaqued
with a gain in rapidity.
And in it, this interplay of elements
across the shape-to-shape
as shadows impress on and pass
through and into the water-body;
it expresses the inward
potential of human depth.
Elaborated upon canvas, a saline wave-slush,
the wash of the elementary;
tingling shale and shell – the hush and crush of it
(cushioning its drag) coruscates to
Monet’s eye; his foot crunches onto the brae, a
sense of things – deliquescent and lingering.