Frida Kahlo, Self Portrait with Necklace of Thorns and Hummingbird, 1940*by Karen George
This may be my favorite of your self-portraits. You against a dense array of broad tropical leaves—your vast aura of veined green. A pair of pale blue butterflies land in the lacuna of your dark braids, echo two dragonflies that hover above you.
Behind one shoulder, a black spider monkey, behind the other a jaguar. I see them as protectors, not merely symbols of evil and bad luck. They have your back.
Yes, a few drops of blood dot your neck from your necklace of thorns, but it holds a hummingbird amulet I interpret as flight and hope. The necklace doubles as an embrace of stem and root from the foliage behind you—the clasp of growth.
Yes, you suffered incessant pain, thirty-five operations, some botched, years bedridden.
But I settle on your face, a heart at the center—calm, tenacious, unforgettable. Afloat in a hotbed of emerald.
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*Here is a link to an image of Self Portrait with Necklace of Thorns and Hummingbird, 1940: https://www.fridakahlo.org/self-portrait-with-thorn-necklace-and-hummingbird.jsp
Karen George is author of the poetry collections from Dos Madres Press: Swim Your Way Back (2014), A Map and One Year (2018), and forthcoming Where Wind Tastes Like Pears. Her work appears or is forthcoming in in Adirondack Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Sheila-Na-Gig Online, Mom Egg Review, Gyroscope Review, and I-70 Review. She reviews poetry at Poetry Matters: http://readwritepoetry.blogspot.com/. Her website is: https://karenlgeorge.blogspot.com/.