THINGS FOLLOWING: an excerpt from 'Flowers of Darkness'
Light sometimes shines on the invisible and we get a glimpse of glory. It’s bleak out there today. The limbs and branches of the poplar trees surrounding me are reaching skyward, like a church choir in a moment of rapture.
I try not to look too far ahead. Here I am, in winter bleakness far from those eastern Kentucky mountains. Far from that little mining camp. Farther still beyond that confused little boy who felt that every touch, every glance and smile, every caress, every gift of the flesh, every gift of any kind was love, pure and simple.
I fill my days with chores. Chores and more chores …prearranged routine tasks. I spend time disheveling things just so I can set them right again. I seem to do this as if the art of arranging and re-arranging objects will in fact re-arrange me.
It’s going to be different where I’m going. Days are becoming more mysterious.The past is always following me on this circuitous journey. In this moment, the future has joined us. ALS has become my constant companion. I look in the mirror. I can see the backside of vanity trailing, dissolving away from me. Its sheen has gone. No more time for preening. As my body morphs from this disease, there is a new me to present to the world. Unadorned. I’ve laid aside the mask. No longer do I have the time for first impressions. I’m coming into focus.
The saddest thing is that van Gogh was well aware of what was happening to him. 'My dear Theo,' he wrote, lucidly in 1889, having committed himself to an asylum, a few months after famously hacking off part off his ear. 'I wanted to tell you that I think I've done well to come here... seeing the reality of the diverse mad or cracked people in the menagerie, I'm losing the vague dread, the fear of the thing. And little by little I can come to consider madness as being an illness like any other.'
Saint-Rémy-de-Provence / Southern France