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  • I stand in front of his painting a long time. Purple trees like bars on the window of a sterile hospital room. A man and woman pass without speaking, so close and so distant.

    My eyes can feel the coolness of the air, the depth of his lonliness, the silent reproach. I want to touch the swirls of paint with my fingertips. To feel what he felt when he painted this. I want to walk into his painting, to feel the forest, hear twigs snap under my feet, touch the purple tree. Is this where he went to die?

    He painted little of the sky, just enough horizon to give us perspective. Clouds dominate. And the rain. He painted rain. Brushstrokes, layers of paint, scratching his name on the canvas.

    The energy, the madness, his bottled up emotions finding release in paint. In yellow. Vincent loved yellow.

    He cuts off his ear, not for a prostitute, for penance, really for a brother. A talisman, the price he paid for failure. He paints from the asylum, what he sees from the window but does not paint the bars that contain and suppress him. Nothing can hold him. No one can hold him. The world can't hold him. He escapes.

    image source: Undergrowth with Two Figures, Vincent Van Gogh
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