Company of Crows
The crows cawed with relief
when Vincent blew his guts out in the wheat,
though his mind first burst against
the black-and-white angularity of sanity.
When a man sees heaven
like the Apostle Paul,
he becomes speechless,
a prisoner of an involuntary silence
almost as terrible as his exile to earth.
If he tries to put it on canvas
only those who have already seen
will understand, and they are few.
A man gets lonely
under such circumstances,
when the thing closest to his heart
can't be spoken, only pawed at with paint.
A man gets so lonely he may seek
the company of crows.
(published in Poetry Magazine, the online mag--not Poetry)
I remember writing this poem in January of 1996 during my last admission for depression. My manic vision had collapsed and I was left with such psychic emptiness I had no sense of a valid self; at best I felt like a mechanism, like a machine that had lost its ghost. In that miserable quasi-psychotic miasma I scribbled most of this poem.
Since I quit practicing medicine I have not been hospitalized again.