Creative Print 2020

Frida Kahlo: Flower of Flames

Written by Rachel McCrossin
Graphic by Ana Isaacs

This piece was originally published in ‘Pleasure and Danger’, Bossy’s 2020 print edition.

From Gold Dust to Ash: Frida Kahlo was buried in a toad-shaped urn, wrapped in a red cloth.

Right at the centre you have the blood.
Oozing blood, all from this central point.

It’s more like an invisible dot, but it lies there,
and from it, trickles of blood seep to the edges of the canvas. That is the undercoat,
the base for my story,
my painting,
that oozing blood.

The pigments of Mexico are the browns and yellows, the greens, the bursts of colour.
You look at the shrubs and trees around you,
acacias and desert lavender,

Brazilian pepper trees gone wild,
yet a mass that is green.

But then you inspect, you look closer,
and all the shades separate from one another. Notice that it is not one but many
in an unabridged landscape.
This is like the human, too.

The blood.
The pigments separate in front of your eyes, as you look closer. Blood is pain but also life,
damage but also strength.
When you look at blood, you look at yourself.

What better way to observe – to engross – than to gush it to canvas.

My scene begins with red. Flowers.
The flowers that my mother used to thread through my hair on Coyoacán.
The red of the flowers that my husband bought me on our first date.
The red of the flowers I trampled underfoot when I found he had slept with my sister; the sister who shared those very roses, threaded through her own hair.
The red of the blood that had bonded my sister and me,
and then the blood that spilt to the floor in my murderous daydream.

The red of the paint that I would smear across the canvas,
the colour so strong it was as if it were the very same as blood. The very same of Diego, my sister, my broken self.

I began to paint, to spill my seeping blood. An assurance of anatomical self-respect –

Then I fell in love with Diego.
Diego needed somewhere to put his blood too,
and we both poured it onto the canvas hand in hand. Soul to soul,
blood to blood.

Overripe, ripened to where the flesh starts to melt into itself. A wrinkled prune that sits idly in the sun,
reminiscent of its potential to become sweet ruby wine.

Hounds surrounded by wisps of fire enter – reporters, photographers.
The wolves encircling us,
imaginative! Maybe not intelligent with their words but imaginative,

I will grant them that. Their words are squeals, yelps,
cries for help

They howl, they yell,
they bite.
My blood oozes from my ankle. Or is it my wrist?
My leg.
My ovaries.

Wife of the mural master painter, Señora Diego Rivera
put into black and white print. But where is my colour?

He creates, I dabble!

Dabble in pain.
But what do they know?
They do not know that my whole flesh, blood, soul is in this. My blood is the paint spread on this canvas,
and I do not call that ‘dabble’,
although I do not know those words as well as they do.

They are better at it in Mexico – than the big America.
I do not dabble in Mexico,
I paint in Mexico.

My home, my colours.

Is this where my scene ends?
The blood in me and out of me,
my only fruit on the canvas, the seed unshrouded –

It ends in Apocalyptic Chaos. Transfiguration, transportation, and the heavens open
visions of sky, pink-light bathed. Sky and sun, simultaneous Green Winged Creature floats, a trail of blood left behind.

Me? Devil or angel?
Its legs blackened and dragging
the death that was mocked but feared

fought against but longed for my own departure.

I have faced death before this moment.
This just happens to be the last time that I do.

I hope my flowers will be beautiful when I’m gone,
I hope these flowers will give love to me as I did them. I do not care what they do with me,
as long as I am gone. Beautiful.
Not what one can see as beauty
but the beauty of feeling. Tenderness, warmth, emotion. Adorn me with flowers –

My bed is on fire as I lie waiting.
My soul is aflame.
I hope the leaving is joyful, and I hope never to return –

“As Frida Kahlo’s corpse entered the crematorium furnace, the heat forced it to sit up. Head ablaze, she faced the mourners.” – Unknown Paper in Mexico

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