Tuesday 6 July 2010

A Poem for Frida Kahlo's Birthday

Here is a poem for Frida Kahlo's birthday, from What the Water Gave Me – Poems after Frida Kahlo. 'Flower of Life', like all the poems in my book, has the title of one of her paintings. The Mexican mandrake is a cactus flower and through it Kahlo seems to both celebrate the life force and mourn her inability to have children.

Flower of Life

I flip the love plant
upside-down, release a starburst

of stamens and stigma –
insecticide yellow
to ward off scorpions

from our marriage bed.
And around the ruby mandragora
I let the rosette of leaves

bare their petticoats –
the business of what’s inside
and under the fireworks.

Is that an embryo’s fontanelles
in the petalled womb
or Diego’s fountain-flower?

It isn’t roots someone’s pulled
shrieking out of the ground,

but my torn fallopian tubes.