The Tree Has Captured My Soul

by | Aug 19, 2014 | Poetry

For Van Gogh

When they found him mad in the field
On his knees, gripping the hard wooden trunk
Of his own living soul, it could never be said
How it happened, whether the soul of the tree,
Its branches rising and interlocking like bones
Had disguised itself as skeleton and penetrated
The vision of his body that way undetected;
Or whether his soul willingly turned the vision of itself
Inside its own socket and became the pure white tree
Of its own interlocking; or whether he saw and testified
To the fragmentary parting of his soul caught
Among the wind and branches spreading across his canvas;
Or whether he captured his own body in the turning
Brushstrokes of a thousand yellow leaves and forfeited thereby
The treeless autonomy of his soul here on earth;
Or whether he lost the whole tree of his eye but gained
A vision of the veins of his soul rising and branching
Toward light; or whether the wind turned the soul
Of each yellow leaf inside its own socket
Until his eye was united everlastingly with that movement;
Or whether he saw the shimmering perception
Of that tree lift his body, light as a soul,
On the tips of its branches forever toward heaven.


But it is known that he came fully awake among them
In the field, his arms around his body
As if it were rooted in the earth, seeing
The illuminating wind of his soul for the first time
In all the possible movements of yellow
Each visionary leaf could offer him.


Photo By: benoit theodore

About The Author

Pattiann Rogers

Pattiann Rogers has published fourteen books, most recently Holy Heathen Rhapsody (Penguin, 2013). Rogers is the recipient of two NEA Grants, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a Lannan Literary Award in Poetry. Among other awards, her poems have received five Pushcart Prizes, two appearances in Best American Poetry, five appearances in Best Spiritual Writing. She has taught as a visiting writer at several universities. Her papers are archived in the Sowell Collection at Texas Tech University. She is the mother of two sons, has three grandsons and lives with her husband, a retired geophysicist, in Colorado.