At the Psychiatrist’s Office

Through an open door,
while seated in a waiting room chair,
I glimpse a partially hidden view of Starry Night

magically, its thick eclipse exposes yellow sun & moon,
inky blues now streaking across canvas once the color
of clinical white walls.

It’s only a print. One of many Van Gogh
reproductions stacked in bins in shopping malls
across the country, thumb-tacked on dorm walls,
or framed in the homes of aspiring corporate types
with a fondness for the arts, doctors’ offices, or here,
in the office of my teenage daughter’s psychiatrist.

Printed posters everywhere, easy to overlook or
dismiss in the rush of ubiquitous overload,
not unlike breathing—forgotten—until one forgets
to breathe.     

Look again.

Thick broad brushstrokes deceptively simple
until one notes the swirling complexity—
the giant fingerprints of god,
the bold genius of color gone mad.

This brief glimpse of a starry night escaping
through an open door that will soon close to swallow
my daughter and her secrets bruises my mother-heart
with new tenderness.

I think of my daughter’s sad lovely eyes peering through
her camera’s view, recognizing beauty in a hard world,
if only for a tiny starlit flicker, before the dark of night
descends and we wait for a new constellation to appear.  


Robin Michel

Robin Michel’s fiction and poetry appears in or is forthcoming in Fresh Ink VI, The Midwest Poetry Review, The Noyo River Review, The New Guard, Pittsburgh Quarterly, Star 82 Review and elsewhere. She lives with her husband in San Francisco, where they enjoy eating wild raspberries, noticing the sky’s changing light, and welcoming the fog when it eventually arrives.