The Potato Eaters

Vincent, ever aware of the need for economy,
packs them all into these four walls:
Martha and Mary, the meal at Emmaus and
a meagre Last Supper

Where the man of the house
holds out the heavenly host,
to his wife, busy blessing the wine
just as Judas chooses the wrong moment
to reach into a dish of potatoes.

And above them all the Holy Ghost
flickers, and wonders
if perhaps he has entered
the wrong house by mistake.

 

First published in the Glasgow Review of Books, November 2016 

(c) Eileen Farrelly

This poem, written a few years ago, was inspired by Van Gogh's portrayal of peasant life and the religious fervour of his early life. Painted in 1885 the artist considered it to be one of his most successful paintings.