Death with a Mound of Lavender Cattleyas, Frida Kahlo,
      and The Dream, Frida Kahlo, 1940

At night in her wooden bed Frida practices. She stretches out and the black bat eyebrows guard. Reclining on top of the bed canopy, she paints death, a white skeleton even gives the skull plump velvet pillows. In its bony grasp, the skeleton holds a mound of lavender cattleyas like a bride. Frida’s wrapped firecrackers around its limbs; she knows the body is a living bomb. Her breaths go in starts and stops. Pain lies in her bed, so she knows she’s still alive. When Frida sleeps, the rose bush twines up around her body and spreads its green benediction. The bed flies among violet clouds and before dawn, the skeleton looks down on Frida’s cocoon of thorns.

By day a swallow spreads its wings across Frida’s brow, but still the tears run. Frida dresses her hair two ways at the same time. On her right, she’s a natural woman wild and unbounded, a woman of blood, on her left, plaited and contained, Diego’s wife, the costumed woman. Frida paints herself over and over, practices every pose of being, still the tributaries of blood tangle in her hair, catch, twine, spread around her neck, mimic lace across her bodice. Even though the swallow now makes itself a crucifix between her eyes, nothing halts the blood flowing thicker than paint.

Copyright 2006,  Laura Snyder

Poet and naturalist, Laura Snyder, writes from Seattle but confesses her heart-home is 80 acres in the wilds of British Columbia. Since she began writing in midlife, 12 years ago, she has been published in many journals and natural history anthologies.


<< Previous Contents Next >>