I dreamt they took me to my rooms, where I had said I wanted to go.
There was a candle burning on a low table in one of the plastered cells.
I had to pinch my auburn beard together with my fingers to assure
myself that my hand was still there. Still I did not regret for one
second sticking my left hand into that other flame in exchange for equal
time with my cousin Kee. Her parents wrote to me “Your persistence is
disgusting,” and I held their letter with seared fingertips, but that
was the worst of it. Later I met Gauguin and travelled with
him. But I felt he was about to abandon me. We quarreled fiercely about
painting sunflowers. I had to sacrifice my own left ear to a razor blade
for the cause – but only the lower lobe. It was not bad because the
prostitute Rachel agreed to keep the object carefully for me until my
return. Because I was sane enough to commit myself, and because I
had only abjured the sinister left side of myself, I was allowed two
rooms. One for myself and one for my studio. The studio cell had barred
windows which, at my leisure, I may look out. A crescent moon hung over
Saint-Rémy like something missing. But there was a solid tree in the
foreground that refused to budge, though the wind howled clouds around,
and those clouds pushed stars out of the way. I was happy, happy, happy
to be here. To see this. I was content to sit and stare all
night, but at some point the candle melted out. When I awoke I looked
around wildly for a moment, trying to decide where I was. I believe they
must have moved me to the adjoining cell. The morning was cloudy,
filtering an opaque light through the bars. I felt with panicked
assurance that I would never be able to paint what I had seen.
“It’s enough now, Theo.” Dr. Peyron said, gripping my shaking shoulders
steady, “Let go of this Vincent character. Let go of him. He isn’t
real.” He held my hands in supplication so I could see the hills and valleys of my own whole fingerprints.