In a chronicle of pain
the child’s leg dwindles
with polio. A streetcar
crushes nerves and bones.
And Frida, born of revolution
recreates her life again and again.
She wears flowers and embroidered silks,
jewelry of sky or thorns or severed hands.
She braids her long hair.
Diego looms larger than life,
and she beside him, regal. No common
pets accompany their household, but eagle,
parrot, deer, spider monkey.
Frida’s dark eyes below eyebrow wings
fling her challenge, while the sharp
tongue shrugs its curses. A heart
is a palette, dripping. A shawl
is despair, to clasp or throw off.
We can’t see the alcohol or Demerol,
but stare back at fierce portraits
by this woman held rigid in plaster corset,
her toes falling away, her dream of death,
her paintings like illuminated
stations along the difficult way.
Frida Kahlo reprinted from Fishing in Green Waters, Červená Barva Press, 2006
© 2006 Judy Ray. All Rights Reserved.
Portrait of (from left to right) Malu Block, Frida Kahlo de Rivera and Diego Rivera by Carl Van Vechten. Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Carl Van Vechten Collection, [LC-USZ62-103971 (b&w film copy neg.)]