Guest artist: Pascale Petit

What the Water Gave Me (VI)

after Frida Kahlo

This is how it is at the end–
me lying in my bath
                                        while the waters break,
my skin glistening with amnion,
                                                       streaks of starlight.

And the waters keep on breaking
as I reverse out of my body.

My life dances on the silver surface
where cacti flower.

The ceiling opens
                                        and I float up on fire.

Rain pierces me like thorns. I have a steam veil.

I sit bolt upright as the sun’s rays embrace me.

Water, you are a lace wedding-gown
I slip over my head, giving birth to my death.

I wear you tightly as I burn–
                                        don’t make me come back.

Pascale Petit’s latest book is What the Water Gave Me: Poems after Frida Kahlo (Black Lawrence Press, 2011), containing poems in the voice of the Mexican painter Frida Kahlo. The UK edition was short-listed for the T.S. Eliot prize, is long-listed for the Wales Book of the Year and was chosen a Book of the Year in The Observer. Petit trained at the Royal College of Art and was a visual artist before deciding to concentrate on poetry. She has published five collections, two others of which were also short-listed for the T.S. Eliot Prize and were books of the year in the Times Literary Supplement and the Independent. She lives in London and tutors for the Tate Modern, where she leads poetry courses in the galleries. 

To celebrate the U.S. publication of What the Water Gave Me, Petit will be reading at the Community Bookstore in Brooklyn (April 28); Cornelia St. Café in NYC (April 30); Metta Theater in Taos, NM (May 5); Ruskin Art Club in LA (May 8); Moonday Poetry at Village Books in LA (May 9); and Poetry Santa Cruz in Santa Cruz, CA (May 10). For more details click here.

Poem © Pascale Petit; for reprint rights contact the artist at pascalepetit [AT] btinternet [DOT] com. Book cover used by permission.

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4 Responses to Guest artist: Pascale Petit

  1. Excellent post! I enjoyed reading it very much.

    Poetry will never loose it’s touch even as we enter this digital age. Thanks for sharing.

    A Poem for Mothers

  2. Karen Harvey says:

    I just love the rich imagery of Pascale Petit’s work.

  3. Not so easy to sing in that voice ~ well done. Praises from the land of Frida Kahlo ~ ¡felicidades!

  4. Thank you for this preview Diana, really appreciate it, looking forward to meeting you and everyone at the Metta Theatre. Thanks for the kind comments, and to Becca for encouragement from the land of Frida!

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