“August” — Mary Oliver



Mary Oliver

Our neighbor, tall and blonde and vigorous, the mother
of many children, is sick. We did not know she was sick,
but she has come to the fence, walking like a woman
who is balancing a sword inside of her body, and besides
that her long hair is gone, it is short and, suddenly, gray.
I don’t recognize her. It even occurs to me that it might
be her mother. But it’s her own laughter-edged voice,
we have heard it for years over the hedges.

All summer the children, grown now and some of them
with children of their own, come to visit. They swim,
they go for long walks at the harbor, they make
dinner for twelve, for fifteen, for twenty. In the early
morning two daughters come to the garden and slowly
go through the precise and silent gestures of T’ai Chi.

They all smile. Their father smiles too, and builds
castles on the shore with the children, and drives back to
the city, and drives back to the country. A carpenter is
hired—a roof repaired, a porch rebuilt. Everything that
can be fixed.

June, July, August. Every day, we hear their laughter. I
think of the painting by van Gogh, the man in the chair.
Everything wrong, and nowhere to go. His hands over
his eyes.



Head of a Peasant (Study for the Potato Eaters) — Vincent van Gogh


Head of a Peasant (Study for the Potato Eaters), 1885 by Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890)


Landscape with Couple Walking and Crescent Moon — Vincent van Gogh

Landscape with Couple Walking and Crescent Moon, 1890 by Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890)

Bird’s Nest — Vincent van Gogh


Bird’s Nest, 1885 by Vincent van Gogh (1843-1890)

Field with Two Rabbits — Vincent van Gogh

A Lane Near Arles — Vincent van Gogh


A Lane Near Arles, 1888 by Vincent van Gogh (1843-1890)

A Man with a Broom — Vincent van Gogh


A Man with a Broom, 1881 by Vincent van Gogh (1843-1890)

Great Peacock Moth — Vincent van Gogh


Great Peacock Moth, 1889 by Vincent van Gogh (1843-1890)

Orchard in Blossom — Vincent van Gogh


Orchard in Blossom, 1888 by Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890)

Homage to Van Gogh — Francis Bacon


The Woodcutter (After Millet) — Vincent van Gogh

Study Sheet with Seven Hands — Vincent van Gogh

Still Life with Mussels and Shrimp –Vincent van Gogh


Two Women in the Woods — Vincent van Gogh


Corridor in the Asylum — Vincent van Gogh


Skeleton — Vincent van Gogh


The Langlois Bridge at Arles — Vincent van Gogh