I have a degenerative eye condition called keratoconus that over time dramatically reduces visual acuity and causes often-severe haloing effects around lights.
There have been some theories raised that van Gogh had it, as well; many of his paintings present a hauntingly familiar view of the world to KC patients, The Starry Night in particular. That was my favorite painting long before I was diagnosed or had symptoms; this year I tackled a highly detailed pattern of it in cross-stitch. Working on it re-raised thoughts about van Gogh and KC, and about what it’s done to my life, as well, especially my decreased ability to work on fine fabrics.
I guess this qualifies as double-ekphrasis; it responds to both the needlework and the original painting.
Van Gogh’s Moon
I see the way he did, the stars magnified, haloed like pale and jaundiced angels.
My ophthalmologist uses that word, too, to describe what I’ll see every night
For the rest of my life around streetlights and full moons. Fine linen is
Years and diopters beyond me now. I work on stiffer cloth studded with
Readily visible holes, fill each in its turn with cotton floss dyed in all the colors
Vincent saw. In a spiral of orange peel on top of the trash, and centered in my
Window at one in the morning are my models for van Gogh’s moon, a single
11-count stitch laid over it in number 945 by my deceptive, defective eyes.