Vincent van Gogh envisioned making
death’s acquaintance before he did.
With a self-inflicted gunshot wound
to the chest, he told his brother
‘la tristesse durera toujours’
(the sadness [would] last forever)
if he survived.
During her final months, my Nanna
knew what he meant.
For Vincent, it was a rejection of the mind,
of the unstable and fluctuating nature of mental illness,
of a revolving door relationship with creativity,
of a brain overworked,
of a brain unbalanced.
For my Nanna, it was a rejection of the body,
of 82-year-old bones grown weary,
of a tongue devoid of able taste buds,
of a heart leaking passion,
of a heart leaking zest.
They looked to death for peace.
his mind is quiet.
her body is still.
On the other side, my Nanna passes a
market, buys a painting from a man
with a severed left ear and hangs it
in her dining room.
When my Grandpa gets home,
she gestures towards the painting, asks
‘How does it make you feel?’
He examines it for a moment, then replies,
‘Like the songs birds sing in the morning,
like a boat sailing on a gentle sea’.
Cassie Lewis is a Bachelor of Arts graduate from Adelaide, South Australia. Her go-to coffee order is a mocha and she is a frequent reader of horoscopes. You can find her poems ‘Sweet Talker’ and ‘The same city’ in Germ Magazine (2017).