To Frida Kahlo by Marco A. Domínguez
I notice skylines no one speaks of
in your paintings, and the clouds
behind you slaughtered in blues
and blacks, because the sun gushes
nowhere in your landscapes;
because your floral dresses hold
a tension more than rain clouds;
because your brow slows me
to your eyes. I see the weight
of spider monkeys perched
inside your portraits, sunflower roots
constricting you to earth, and blood
no one struggles to look away from;
blood on the horizon of your dress
spilling past the catheter at your knees.
Malena wears your clothes
on Halloween. She even sharpies
two eyebrows into one.
Underneath the floral dress,
she presses a Jesu-Cristo to her heart
and prays to paint like you.
She’d paint her hair instead of breasts
exposing heart chambers and broken vertebrae,
and her hair would part revealing
the brain tumor she told none of her friends
about, except for me. I puzzle how
her costume makes her you.
The same wanting to be seen and seen more.
The same clouds in your landscapes.
Then I remember what you said,
your wish to die with joy and not return.
I look Malena in the eye and want to shake
the joy out of her, so she’ll stay.
I want to erase the marker from her face,
to draw your clothes off her body, and keep her
in the bowl of my arms
before blood rushes to her head,
escapes her net of hair
and searches for your dress.
My sister, Alma, gifted me your face
framed in red oak. Said you remind her
of me, so I try to merge our faces together.
My forehead to yours. Your eyes enter
mine. Our noses touch. Our lips
press together like our chins to the canvas
and soon the landscape embraces us,
monkeys perch our shoulders,
and sunflower roots ensnare our legs.
The clouds show us it’s not the eyebrows
or the brown eyes under them,
not the neckline or the slender
length of fingers we have in common.
In fact, nothing is the same between us.
Our skins are different shades of Mexican;
our eyes a different kind of almond.
I take you apart feature by feature
and I’m not in the corner of your lips
or the shadow of your jaw. Only
Almasays I’m there, underneath
the brush strokes of your forehead,
behind the mouth you seal
tighter than the secret Malena kept with me.
It was a mistake. Some local artist made
your eyes blue and sold you
to a wine bar. Your portrait hangs
above the counter and you eye the new
arrivals with eyes the color of your blue
house in Mexico City, the one they made
into a museum. I’ve been there, seen
your bed with the mirror above it,
and placed my hands on your garden
walls where you made sure sea shells
were suspended in the concrete
at ear level so you could hear the ocean.
But you don’t hear this. The stealing
of the brown from your eyes. The taking
away of what makes you you. Malena
not speaking to me for four years and you
quiet in your portrait with the brown
missing from your eyes like the sun
from the sky. A small loss that reminds me
that the closest I can come to you is this.
Marco A. Domínguez is a poet and playwright originally from California. He attended Texas Tech University, Northern Michigan University, and East Los Angeles Community College. His work has appeared in Boxcar Poetry Review, Hunger Mountain, Indiana Review, Water-Stone Review, and elsewhere. His website is alldepressed.com