“Starry Night Over the Rhone” (September 1888) Vincent van Gogh
Empty your lungs. Rise to take another breath. The rhythm so innate, so intimate. Let water enter your mouth. Breathe in, breathe in a sea. Your own body: a river evolved. Empty. Full. I am a new species. Move in sync with breath. Gather water and release it.
Enter the trance—no feeling or fear. The mind departs the premises. Death would be welcome here. Thought relinquished. Thoughts of carnage shut behind far off doors miles from here.
I am on a peak of a wave. Buoyed atop a fiery new mountain. My vision—obsidian-oblique. The water’s properties: sometimes rope, sometimes a mother’s arms, sometimes God, sometimes a hurricane without animus.
Swim with grace. No heaving chest. No despair for breath. Great wind in me. The world is coarse. Its blood-rot so far away—an unreality in sacred water. The last vestige of man grasps for what is not his and what is his own is forgotten.
Here in wordless water, the breath always comes back. Breath, heartbeat steady, singsong blood. The scars on psyche are smoothed, eroded by drip, drip, drip. A mountain is diminished to dust in millennia of rainfall.
And I dream this night of rivers. Deep, mud-flooded rivers, carrying me on my satin bed. Rivers separating me from the rocky shore. A long, hollowed bough I cling to. Flowing through the center of it all. The river is dark. Fast currents. I cannot navigate nightfall. I cannot fight the river’s will. The river in me flows with the river without me. Water calls to water. We meet our own element.
Somewhere it will drain and I will be left dry, soft-boned, with salt-cracked organs. I am a pillar of salt, only and barely spittle to preserve what I once was: my progeny, my land, my breath, my history, my failure.
Tongue the mud from the riverbed, make life new.