Posted on March 31, 2015 by Patricia Ann McNair3.31.2015 Journal Prompt Photo by Willy Ronis March 31, 2015: When night comes… Like this:Like Loading... Related
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He heard that song, see. When he was just small. The one by that American. The one about the artist and how ‘this world was never meant for one as beautiful as you’, and he wanted to know then. He wanted to know all about Vincent and what the man singing the song meant.
‘Are my eyes blue?’ he said one day, when he knew that they were. ‘Are they China blue?’ he said. ‘Are they like the eyes of the man in the picture?’
He was ten and already he had a way of looking at things that was unusual.
On his wall hung a self-portrait of the artist. In amongst the sunflowers and wheat-fields. It was the one with the straw hat and the artist’s eyes so blue it hurt to look at them for too long. And that was the picture the boy meant and that was the blue.
‘They are windows to the soul, you know,’ the boy said. He was talking about the eyes – the artist’s and his own. It was something he’s heard the minister say and now he was looking at himself in reflection, turning his head a little like in the picture and one hand over his mouth to hide the fact that he did not have a flaming beard like the man in the picture.
‘Is there a darkness in my soul?’ he asked me.
I told him he was ten and I said that his soul was bright as a new penny, but he was not happy with the answer I gave him. He scowled like the man in the picture, put a furrow on his even brow and turned the corners of his mouth down.
‘Why do you never listen?’ he said.
It is a sad song and he liked that. He played it over and over and he had all the words to heart, even when he did not know what the song meant. A sad song and it fitted with who he thought he was.
‘And do you love me?’ he said.
I was thirteen and I did not really know what love was then. We were kids together and he held my hand sometimes and he kissed my cheek and he sighed as if it hurt him to do that.
‘Do you love me?’ he said again and again.
He was ten and I was thirteen. What did we know about anything? I told him he was soft and silly and I told him that I never could understand him. But I did not say that I loved him.
His told me once how his papa stood with him out on the balcony of the house and the night was dark as boot-black and all the stars were out. And his papa said he was to pick a star and of course he chose the brightest.
‘That star is your mama,’ his papa said.
His eyes watered and all the drowning starry night swirled about him and he lost sight of the star he had picked. He was in a panic then and he cried and he fainted and his papa carried him to his bed and called for the doctor.
He told me that and I did not understand. Not till it was late and he was grown and gone to be an artist in a sunnier place. And now I think understand, and I miss him, and I am the one left listening to the song and wondering.
Something else he told me that i recall: some nights, when he was still a boy, he crept to the top of the house on dark nights, as high as ever climbing would allow, and he wrote his new name in chalk on a black slate and he held it above his head, held it against the night and all its stars, and the name he wrote was ‘Vincent’.