Once I Saw the Famous Room in Arles
As a teenager I saw the famous room in Arles
that Vincent had painted. 1968 was the year,
when the globe was turning
inside out, every revered statue teetering
from Berkeley to Prague.
Friends took us to the bistro downstairs, perhaps
the very place Van Gogh had dined
on rabbit stew and a block of brown bread.
After our dinner of steak frites
and a good bottle of burgundy,
the propriéteur asked if we wanted to see the room,
normally closed to the public.
We followed up the narrow stairs,
and he unlocked the tiny room, furnished
just as in Vincent’s time,
when he’d painted ocean walls
and chairs with wiggly orange legs.
The room was gray, the furniture
square and brown,
and suddenly I glimpsed
the whole yeasty Xanadu
of the imagination.
Zack Rogow is the author, editor, or translator of twenty books or plays. His poetry collections include, The Number Before Infinity, Talking with the Radio, poems inspired by jazz and popular music. He is also writing a series of plays about authors. The most recent, Colette Uncensored, had a staged reading at the Kennedy Center in DC, and ran in London and San Francisco. His blog, Advice for Writers, has more than 200 posts. He serves as a contributing editor of Catamaran Literary Reader. http://www.zackrogow.com