Poem by Bob Bradshaw   •   Photo by Ariel Magidson
Vincent Writes from Saint-Paul Hospital

I lie awake in the middle of the night,
listening for insane voices
that aren't there.
Theo, during the day
the patients have each other, a kindly hand
on the shoulder worth more
than a month's wages.
We would trade our future
for an afternoon of tunes
from a barrel organ.
Distractions help more
than medicines.
I tried to digest my paints,
squeezing tubes of malachite greens,
cobalt blues, burnt oranges
down my burning throat.
Finally my paints and brushes
have been returned.
For hours I am as calm
as Prussian blue
but panic quickens my pulse
at the end of the day
when I return my brushes
to their box.

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