Even on this first leg of the forced march
Into winter, the rows of ragged troops
In the field can barely stand—their wooden stumps
Hollow as promises, their petals blasted,
Their bristled leaves now paned by parasites,
Their huge, black catacombs all drooping
In shame that they had not been picked in time.
Many have already collapsed into the runnels
Of mud that generations have laid down for them.
Asked what he meant by them, Van Gogh said
It was not the flares or disks of dark seeds.
It was how I painted gratitude, he said.