Wheat Field with Crows (1890), Vincent van Gogh


As I reach the rise, I turn to take one last look back at a past that nearly consumed me.

The setting sun lends a golden hue to the wheat field, suggesting a false sense of hope that has long vanished from that place. More to the truth is the ominous presence of a black horizon, one no longer mine. Yet, while there, that blackness was no horizon, but an ever present now that nearly suffocated my very soul.

How appropriate, that a murder of crows moving towards that blackness, earnestly cawing as they sight carrion, should be mirrored by the massive clouds roiling overhead, seemingly ready to feed on that bit of my soul left behind.

True hope lies in the opposite direction. I note how the track seems ever greener the further behind it leaves that dark past, as I turn once more to face the warm glow of the setting sun and the promise of a brighter future.

Jane Dougherty’s Microfiction Challenge #7: Wheatfield offers the choice of a photo of a wheat field or a painting, Wheat Field with Crows, by Vincent van Gogh. I don’t know that my piece is microfiction. Perhaps it’s an essay, or maybe an opening/intro (with the exception of the last paragraph) to a flashback, but it’s not something I plan to pursue. The word count here is 160.
(I tend to see faces and shapes within patterns in innocuous items, like wood grain, the random markings on tile or the texture of a brick. The line of thought in this piece was inspired the heads of crows I see facing right in the clouds – large and ominous in the center, faint in the upper left and receding in the upper right – as if waiting on a telephone line to lunge to the earth.)
Of course, Jane’s critique is welcome.

Image source: Wikipedia

11 thoughts on “Departure

  1. This is your hallmark style, gently and evenly paced with a choice of language that transcends time, by which I mean it doesn’t seek to be snappy and contemporary. It’s timeless. It also follows a physical linear path, moving from the horizon, forward to the front of the image, and projecting the reader into a feature off page, but that we imagine golden bright. Lovely piece of writing.
    Can I just ask you a technical question? I notice you use the word ‘further’ where we are told US Engish prefers ‘farther’. I always object that they aren’t interchangeable, and in US English both spellings are acceptable. Editors invariably shout me down. Why did you choose to use further?

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you, Jane.
    I see farther as distinctly an indication of distance or measurement, which could be applied here, but in using further I was trying to give the feel of “additional,” as in “without further ado.”


  3. Lovely piece, Ken. Jane is right about timeless feeling and the sense of hope.

    I think mine started out, too, as more of a reflection. Perhaps there is something about Van Gogh that inspires that.

    Also, I would have used “further,” too, because I think you’re referring to time and a metaphysical distance, as well as the moving away from a physical location.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Microfiction challenge Wheatfield: the entries – Jane Dougherty Writes

  5. Pingback: Too Smart for My Own Good ~ with audio | rivrvlogr

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