KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 2: Winter 2015
Ekphrastic *  
Micro-Fiction: 278 words [R]

Vincent in the Yellow House

by Nuala Ní Chonchúir

If I live in a crepuscular haze, he lives in the light. Funny, then, that I choose yellow: the colour of sun and butter, spring flowers and madness. And Gauguin revels in devilish reds.

A weak absinthe swirls my brain toward anger; I eye him.

“Why,” I say, “did you put your own features on a painting of me?”

Gauguin frowns. “Because all pictures are portraits of their makers,” he says.

I fling my absinthe—glass and all—at his head. He manhandles me from Café de la Gare, across the square to our yellow house. He puts me to bed and sleep muffles me at once.

“I apologise,” is my morning greeting, but I continue to watch him. He steps back from his easel.

“I’m going for a walk,” he says.

I follow, a razor tucked into my palm. On the Place Lamartine he turns to face me and I plunge the air with the razor. Gauguin runs away and I am immediately remorseful; he is my friend.

I return to the yellow house, where my squat and motherly portrait of the Virgin mocks me; she screams to my loneliness. Like some biblical traitor, I take my razor-blade and carve a slitch off my ear. I watch the red seep of blood mingle with the yellow paint on my palette. Then I wrap the ear-slice in newspaper, like a rasher of bacon, and take it to Rachel the street-walker. She is not pleased.

Gauguin leaves the yellow house after that and I have a spell in the asylum; safe from the Virgin, safe from the prostitute, safe from Gauguin, safe from yellow.


* The Yellow House, oil on canvas by Vincent van Gogh, 1888, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (F464)

—Previously published in Wigleaf (6 January 2009); republished here by author’s permission

Nuala Ní Chonchúir
Issue 2, Winter 2015

Fiction writer and poet born in Dublin, Ireland, who now lives in County Galway. She is the author of five collections of short stories, four collections of poetry, and two novels. Her books include the novel Closet of Savage Mementos (New Island Books, 2014); the collection of short stories Of Dublin and Other Fictions (Tower Press Publishing, 2013); and a bilingual collection of poems, Tattoo: Tatú (Syracuse University Press, 2008).

Her third novel, Miss Emily, which she wrote under the name of Nuala O’Connor, will be released in July 2015 by Penguin Books.

Nuala’s poetry and fiction have appeared in publications such as Crannóg magazine, Irish Pages, Poetry Ireland Review, New Irish Writing in The Sunday Tribune, and The Stinging Fly in Ireland; Litro, Pen Pusher, Southlight and Wales Arts Review in the United Kingdom; Garm Lu in Canada; and Prairie Schooner and The Chatahoochee Review in the United States.

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

Interview: Nuala Ní Chonchúir by Rich Rennicks in his blog, A Trip to Ireland (6 November 2013); includes a brief discussion of writing short versus long, with insights such as this: “Comparing novels to short fiction is like comparing eggs to bacon.”

Hot Wheels, a flash review/interview by Rachel Walker in her blog, More About the Song (21 January 2010); includes Nuala’s thoughts on short fiction and brave writing, as well as the poem “Menses” from Portrait of the Artist with a Red Car (Templar Poetry, 2009)

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