In Van Gogh’s Dining Room | Tatiana Shpakow

In Van Gogh’s Dining Room,
I take my first antidepressant.

I go through the spleen, digging through the heart
of the kitchen, and set the table for the start of
the morning––a winter-wilted sunflower, an ear
steak, a tube of yellow paint, the color of
what my insides should be.

I stop when I realize I’ve cut
through the rib cage completely,
digging through the back,
emptying a bottle of blue entirely.

This is not my first little death or little life,
each pill the color of ego that ends outside old churches,
those daily pallet cleansers of anesthetic benders,
and women I never spoke to but
wrote poetry about.

My brother comes at half past 7 and asks what I do for the day
when I stay in this yellow-painted house. I tell him I’m on the
phone to avoid showing bloodshot––I want to tell him
about my newest attempt by talking about
my dead friends, my alive friends, and all
the people I don’t know yet. I tell him I‘ll never meet
anyone again.

Until now, I thought I was bound
to be a different nose, a cauliflower ear, a simple madness,
but he frowns, hands outstretched in praise like he’s calming
a rabid dog, and offers me green.

In Van Gogh’s dining room,
I take my first antidepressant.
For the first time in 20 years,
It’s all yellow.

Tatiana Shpakow is an anthropology student from Albuquerque, New Mexico, currently attending Kenyon College in Ohio. Her work discusses the navigation of het- eronormativity in love, the struggle to find identity as Queer, mental health, and the social sciences. Her cre- ative work has appeared or is forthcoming in HIKA, the interlochen review, and elsewhere. She has also received the 2020 Michigan State New York Life Award from the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards.

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