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To Frida Kahlo by Marco A. Domínguez

May 4, 2011


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

One Comment leave one →
  1. Lily permalink
    May 5, 2011 11:59 am

    beautiful is the poetry of pain

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