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To the Miscarried Child, Van Gogh’s “Irises” At Arles
by Mary Moore

The irises aren’t eyed, but tongued:
the three bearded sepals
droop, pant, loll among

the splayed jade-green blades,
while behind the jumble
of tilted flowers, a bud

like a bird’s head
with two white eye spots
eyes us, hybrid,

half plant, half animal,
like the foam-formed
almost human shapes we imagine

in Turner’s turbulent seas:
Poseidon, or something stymied,
unable quite to be,

like you, like me,
mon soeur, ma semblable?
Aping the brush’s flame

shape, a few buds even fuse
art and artist.
The one white iris

like a blind eye
tugs us into its cup, a boast,
an outlier, among the blues,

Made of all colors, white
looks like absence,
not plenitude to our dim sight.

And you, dear jilted ghost
of almost, veined iris-blue
in the dark womb water,

still porous, a skein
of eyelets and mouths,
gone before you’d grown

the skin of being human:
if you’d had the luck
to be born,

would Vincent’s irises
have awed you too?

The terrors his brush disclosed,
bad gods among the beauties.


Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 19, Issue 3.

Mary MooreMary B. Moore’s books include the full-length Flicker, winner of the 2016 Dogfish Head award, and Eating the Light, winner of Sable Books’ 2016 chapbook award.  Cleveland U. published The Book Of Snow (1998).  Amanda and the Man Soul (winner of EMRYS chapbook prize) is forthcoming  in late 2017.

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