November 2001

Rachel Vigier


Rachel Vigier's first collection of poems On Every Stone will be released by Pedlar Press in Fall 2002. She is the author of Gestures of Genius: Women, Dance, and the Body (The Mercury Press, 1994), an examination of voice inside women's bodies, muscle, flesh, and movement. Rachel was raised on a farm in Manitoba and now lives and works in New York City.
An Illness Like Any Other    

It's an illness like any other, Van Gogh wrote,
as the flashes behind his eyes kept popping
while in his hands the brush's marked determination
to continue exploded beyond the canvas, hands
and eyes, together, wrestling the mind
into some kind of submission. The glory of it
assaulted him every time. I have been working
on a size 20 canvas in the open air in an orchard,
lilac plowland, a reed fence, two pink peach trees
against a sky of glorious blue and white.

On a size 20 canvas where illness equals work,
there is nothing more or less than hands,
brushes, and eyes, scraping pink, lavender,
blue, and white zinc here and there
until the mind in her illness settles
at the edge of an orchard
shedding blossoms in brilliant light.

* The passage in italics quoted from Vincent Van Gogh's letter 
to his brother Theo dated March 30, 1888.




Rachel Vigier: Poetry
Copyright 2001 The Cortland Review Issue 18The Cortland Review