Keep this object carefully.Â Van Gogh
Not to shock the prostitute whose flower
youâ€™d recently splashed poppy red
already crusting on its crown. Not because MÃ©niÃ¨reâ€™s worm
bore its way into your mind or how the paint you drank
from the brush jar drew you down its dim well. Not that you sliced
your left ear with a razor when Theo told you
he was to marry Jo Van. Not even a recent theory, that in a fit
of anger Gauguin flicked off the lobe with his rapier
and blood splattered carmine, stippling your shoes already confused
with too much pigment.
Itâ€™s still a mystery sticky as tallow. Believe what you wish.Â
Perhaps as Levis suggested, the woman placed the ear
on a windowsill to listen for her.Â Whether to comfort or terrify,
he didnâ€™t say, but yesterday,
as I walked the moss-ridden path, I saw a single calla lily
listening from the forest floor, sheltered by the pines
and surrounded in jade, looking white as an apology.
Â© Lois P. Jones, previously published in Poetry Wales
Picture 12947251, Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear and Pipe, Van Gogh, 1889, image copyright Mary Evans / Pictures Now Collection
Lois P. Jonesâ€™s work was Highly Commended and published in the 2021 Bridport Poetry Prize Anthology. Other honours include the 2022 Lyrafest Frame to Frames: Ekphrastic Poetry Film Prize for her filmpoem collaboration, La Scapigliata, the 2017 Bristol Poetry Prize judged by Liz Berry, the Lascaux Poetry Prize, the Tiferet Poetry Prize, and winning finalist for the 2018 Terrain Poetry Contest judged by Jane Hirshfield. Jones has work published or forthcoming in Poetry Wales, Plume, Guernica Editions,Â Vallentine Mitchell of London, Verse Daily, and Narrative. Jonesâ€™s first collection, Night Ladder, was published by Glass Lyre Press in 2017 and was a finalist for the Julie Suk Award. Jones is the poetry editor of Kyoto Journal, and a screening judge for Claremont Universityâ€™s Kingsley-Tufts Awards.