After Van Gogh for my mother
In Autumn, Vincent’s poplars’ fiery leaves, lustrous;
burnt orange, ocher, orange like flames
gradually turn to brown piled up in heaps on the ground.
In the flickering light, lines of trees throw shadows
leading to the wooden house where young women,
married or single, would come and go frequently.
They go in frightened, they come out hollowed
and filled with more fear.
In the faces of these women, you’d see their desperation.
The promises they made, which we all know no one keeps.
So, they go back again and again to the house in the woods.
To the old wooden table, the kitchen scattered with empty bottles
and old flasks, the soft light like weak tea, and to the young
cassava shoots whittled down to a tool, sharp as a needle.
Night arrives trailing the crimson sky. The cloaked woman
walks home alone leaving greyish black shadows behind.
Slowly she walks clutching the void in her belly. Regret
Of unmarked stones scattered around the house.
Of wind-whipped leaves making sounds of babies crying
in the yard of that house in the woods.