Roots: Sold to an Unidentified Telephone Bidder
Liz Gallagher

For Frida Kahlo

They said she was “A petite wife who sometimes dabbled in paint”
So she lets her wedding dress drip in blood
and laughs at the memory of her full skirt
and shawls hung out to air between the skyscrapers of New York.
She twists her braided hair and heavy jewelry round the loose anchor of a
steamship chugging out of the Hudson harbour.
A quarter moon romps in bedraggled clouds.

She is a modern woman at the end of a bench.
A foetus, a female abdomen, a pelvic bone, an orchid,
papier-mâché on a balloon, all line up for scrutiny.
She encourages Santa Claus to have a perm in a beauty parlour
and hang alongside the mirror above her canopy.
Afterwards they play a game called “exquisite corpse”—
where he draws a head and folds, she draws a torso and folds
until they circle themselves with mangoes and never hide in footnotes.

Monkeys and parrots wrap themselves round her with silk ribbons.
She whistles for toy skeletons to lie at her feet.
She is one-half of the “Love Embrace of the Universe”
and her disintegrating corset rises
from a fantastic vein.

Does her gaze ever rest?
Or does it stay latched to a street car?
I see her with a Black & Decker,
she is under a shrouded sheet,
making back and forth motions,
the reciprocating blade shredding a heart,
a handrail
and bust-length self-portraits.