The Red Vineyards of Arles, Vincent van Gogh

Paulette Guerin

The women’s rounded hips brace baskets heavy
with grapes, their calloused fingers stained and sweet.

Atop a cart, the overseer sits,
his whip’s long tongue still coiled. The gray mare turns

to see what blinders mask: a peasant crouched
to smell an iris. Mistress Vandersleet

stands shaded by her lacy parasol.
She hates the trees. Aloof, the chateau sits,

sulfuric yellow like the sky. The stray
brushstrokes are distant pickers with no face.

Fields blaze a bloody gold. The sun, a pearl,
dissolves a sheen of sweat on pickers’ backs.

They wait for night, the icy moon, to smooth
the fields to sheets of verdigris, of waves.

Paulette Guerin is a graduate of the MFA program at the University of Florida. She lives in Arkansas and teaches English at Harding University. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Best New Poets 2018, ep;phany, Concho River Review, The Tishman Review, 2 River View, and others. She also has a chapbook, Polishing Silver.

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