• Hermione Byron

Portrait in Pain

Portrait paintings were Frida Kahlo's pain-things.

Her labours of love hang as trophies of control and mocking devotion:

desperate identity mirrors.

Frida had the eyes of the dove, her Diego the stomach of the frog.

Limited by their bodies of broken bones

and sagging, pallid skin,

they were artists condemned to a life of costume.

Assuming roles of theatre, they bent from one fiction to the next,

crossing the same bridge each night to a cobalt-stricken,

fatal end: each other's arms.


Painting herself in, Frida kept pain visible.

Tantalising chopped watermelons drizzle juice down the skins,

the seeds popping up like black pearl eyes, yearning with sap, drying untasted.

Her white lace and Tehuana embroidered dresses are intricately maze-like,

to the fine point of forgetting.

Blood is psychotically displayed in legs-splayed, crimson sprayed

beds. Nightmares drown in the bathtub where the feet just keep kicking.


You see how she washed her brushes like ceremony

and tangoed with endurance;

her brushes could have snapped as easily as her spine

and cracked the canvas into a thousand geometric shapes.

Frida skirted around pain and paint in a long-impassioned dance,

for that is what passion really means: suffering disguised by the red robes of love.


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