And he coaxed:
rest beside me,
The music of your spangled song,
thaws the freeze of love gone wrong.
Look what I’ve got,
plucked from my heart.
Feast on these,
fresh shoots will start.”
But reason warned:
Watch fast footsteps, Chirpy bird.
Your beak does peak
to chasms deep
as he bathes in your sweet
But though he sometimes calls you “dear”,
note he’ll never let you near.”
Oh, Chirped bird!
Beak jammed in crack,
wings tied to torture wrack.
With a blind man’s bash,
your fragile bones he had to smash.
His yellow house was painted grand.
Do you think you’ll ever understand?
I only ever hear you cry:
“Lord, tell me why?
Just tell me why.”
Chirped out bird
flopped in my hand.
Your crumpled feathers,
could I carress,
but you’d die
inside a comfort nest.
So, I offer you back
to the outstretched sky.
Spread your wings!
It’s time to fly.
Fresh shoots can spring
from golden seeds.
They’re ripe for thee,
my chirpy bird.
Eat & Fly free.
Rowena Curtin 14th August, 1992.
It feels quite surreal these days, to reflect on the horrors of heartbreak in the years before I met my husband and “settled down”.
This poem revisits my trip to Europe in 1992, and the horrors of heartbreak. It’s title comes from Van Gogh’s house in Arles, which appeared in the painting The Yellow House. I chose Van Gogh’s house for the title as I was rapidly descending into the same sort of anguished madness one associates with Van Gogh.
I hadn’t seen the painting when I named the poem, and the actual painting is much more conventional and “tame” than I’d expected, especially when you think of Van Gogh’s emotional and mental expressionism his works like: Starry Night, which oozes with raw, unbridled emotion.
My “friend” used to call me “Chirpy Bird”, and seemed to find me a breath o fresh air. He’d never met an Australian before and I remember him and some of our friends wondering whether it was just me or Australians in general.
Due to circumstances my friend and I could only be friends and that was accepted and understood. However, emotions aren’t known for sticking to the rules and while I can’t speak for him, mine blew straight through those bounds, at least in my heart. For those of you who remember that great dating classic: When Harry Met Sally, friendship between single men and women is often fraught. I love this scene. Our “friendship” ended in a huge emotional vortex and then the bucket of ice hit. Ouch!
As I ripped my heart out and through it over Pont Neuf long after midnight, I felt like I was the only person ever to have suffered such anguish. A sense of angst which permeated every cell like a seeping poison. Instead of being the wind beneath my wings, my friend brutally cut them off and threw them away. Yet, in a strange paradoxical sense, he also set me free. Being enslaved to a love which could never be, would’ve been a much great thing, but you don’t se that at the time. You only hurt.
By the way, I actually visited Van Gogh’s home in Cuesmes in Greater Mons, Belgium with my “friend”, which also makes the link to Van Gogh more pertinent.