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.