Van Gogh and the postman

Image to accompany Van Gogh and the postman

The subject’s eye, like a naked button, cannot close. The postman did not know what it meant to be painted. He lived his life like a soldier: rigid and burdensome. The artist wished to capture someone unlike himself, but to his horror found, in the wild shadows of the postman’s beard, a longing he never knew. The painter thinks: I have never worn a uniform, but this fact does not free him. Who else but this man could refrain from fidgeting with his collar so long? The process of reproduction bewilders the subject. He rides on horses to deliver pieces of paper, some love letters even, but words are different. They build something. He never thought layers of colour could strip one down, as if the painting was not he, but the soul’s bones.