KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 9: Spring 2018
Ekphrastic Haibun: 123 words


by Sonja Johanson
—after van Gogh’s Figures in a Park

We know that trees make space for one another, thicker branches growing on the opposite sides of trunks. That they spread volatile chemicals through the air, aspirin warnings, and neighbors, even strangers, pick them up and turn their foliage poison. They hold each other in a wood-wide web, sending sugars to keep felled stumps alive for centuries. They reach across the park with mycorrhizal proxies, twined so deeply through their feeders that when a single specimen fails, its partner also dies from breaking of whatever organs a tree may have to take the place of a heart.

long jagged leaves
teeth on the greenest saw
American Chestnut
  broken vase
samaras on the sidewalk
American Elm


Drawing by Vincent van Gogh: Figures in a Park
Figures in a Park (1886)
Pencil sketch-and-study on paper
By Vincent van Gogh

Publisher’s Note: While Van Gogh’s drawing is in the public domain, the original resides at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, Netherlands. The reproduction here was downloaded from


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