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14th Anniversary Edition, Live Encounters Poetry & Writing Volume Four Nov-Dec 2023.
Viva La Vida, poems by Alison Gorman.
Viva La Vida
Frida Kahlo writes to Diego Rivera.
July, 5th, 1954
Soon, I will leave you Diego.
Death will unpin me from this bed
to float with Noguchi’s butterflies
into our blue walled garden. I will rest
upon the pyramid among the pots
and cacti, drink nectar from the orange
dahlia that grows between your idols.
I will watch over Casa Azul, and you,
mi amor. But first, I must finish this painting.
It is the sweet, pink flesh of watermelon.
I love the way it hides beneath dark,
green skin. Tell me, what shall I call it?
Let it come to me, in my final brush
strokes and I shall write it on this slice.
I want to paint in the garden today,
with the spider monkeys eating fruit
from my hand. I want Bonito to perform
his best parrot tricks for a pat of butter.
Mother said that you and I were a marriage
between an elephant and a dove. But you,
are a toad Diego–the greatest accident
of my life. Not even my sister was safe
in your slippery hands. Bastardo!
I took lovers as balm, but the truth is
I love you more than my own skin.
Promise me that you will burn my body
when I have gone. Ask the women to dress
me in my white huipil, to braid my hair
with flowers and to put on my rings.
Play music and drink tequila. Ask Chavela
to sing Paloma Negra to me. Set fire
to my bed and watch my body burn.
Until then, I will keep painting
these words onto watermelon.
On Santa Trinita Bridge
after Beatrice and Dante, by Henry Holiday (1883)
Beatrice sees him first, waiting at the corner, dressed in his finest
burgundy bag hat. He feigns a cavalier air—one hand resting
on the stone wall of the bridge, the other plumping the velvet green
fall of his robe. All along Via Lungarno, shopkeepers untie shutters
and sweep clean their doorways under a cloud-churned sky.
The women promenade and pigeons gather, strutting and fanning
their tails, cooing as they search bricks for crumbs. She walks
toward him like a primavera bride, clasping a single bloom
to her breast. A rose, picked by her friend Monna who flounces
her russet gown and leans in close to whisper. Beatrice’s maid, strides
behind muttering, ready to shield her mistress from his brazen stare.
Rumours run more swiftly than the Arno, where upstream
on the Ponte Vecchio, butchers hurl pig scraps into the turbid water.
Beatrice looks beyond him, to the market where a woman sits
weaving thread into cloth. She slides the shuttle between the weft,
then plucks the loom like a harp. Somewhere, a church bell rings
and piffero horns begin to play. Rumours shared of smokescreen
women, quixotic diversions to conceal his brightest love.
And still, he writes poems to them,
as if they are his sweetings. O fie upon him!
How can he fancy she will catch his gaze?
© Alison Gorman
Alison Gorman is a poet, teacher, and former speech pathologist who lives in Sydney. Her poetry has appeared in Meanjin, Cordite, Southerly, Mslexia, The Honest Ulsterman and Popshot Quarterly. She was awarded the Dorothy Porter Poetry Prize in 2016 and a Varuna Residential Fellowship in 2023. Her work was shortlisted in both the Fool for Poetry International Chapbook Competition, the Mslexia Poetry Competition in 2022 and she currently has four poems shortlisted in the Bridport prize. She has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Sydney. When Alison is not writing poetry, she teaches creative writing to children at Inkling Writing Studio which she founded in 2018.