Why Vincent Van Gogh Cut Off His Ear

Well, this woman I knew asked me to.
Most people didn’t take me seriously.
How could they
when they didn’t take themselves seriously?
But she did.
At least I thought she did.

When I wanted to be a preacher of the gospel
I wasn’t interested in all the neat and confining rules
I was supposed to go to school to learn.
I just wanted to touch people,
to be an instrument used to change lives.
They taught us to imitate Christ
but they labeled me a crazed fanatic
when I actually did it.

What good does it, talking at a poor man
when he has to go to his hovel in the depths of winter cold
and sit around a humble fire re-telling the tale
stuttering with teeth clanging his chatter
while I slept in the warm comfort of a king?
I lived among the folks in my care.
If I had anything extra, I gave it to someone in need.
Isn’t that what Jesus said to do?
I ate what they ate, I shared my salary and my food.
I gave to those less fortunate.
And I was criticized by my superiors for doing so.

You can’t imagine the bleakness of those lives.
What good was a well-meaning sermon going to accomplish
when the people were so hungry they could barely pay attention?
And I liked the woman, I really did.
Women never liked me much.
And she was very kind to me, even if she was paid to be.
And so when she asked me to cut off my ear
I thought she was serious.
It didn’t seem such an impossible request, considering.
Even if I ended up being embarrassed by the misunderstanding.

Linked to Poetry Pantry @ Poets United</a>