The Bench at Saint-Remy
(Painting by Vincent Van Gogh.
Poem based on
the visia divina exercises
in Henri Nouwen’s book
the gnarled, twisted arm of the long-
overgrown tree; the rigid, knotted muscles
of the one providing shade and rest.
the Christ hung on the smooth-scarred planks
of a tree that once shaded the Roman soldier
or perhaps a pair of Jewish lovers
acting out Solomon’s song.
under the weary tree, ancient,
its bark wrinkles under the pressure of time
and earthly formation. countless hours
providing shade has made it an expert
in blocking the scorching heat.