Ekphrastic, After The Dream (The Bed), Frida Kahlo, 1940
cw: bodily harm
The teeth, someone told her once, are the only parts of her skeleton that she will ever wash,
that she will ever see. Not strictly true, she tells herself, or not for me, not since the day
of my accident, shriek of metal, of wood, of blood and bone, of before and after, shattered
like the windowpanes on that crosstown bus. Inside, outside, me, not-me, in an instant
so much meaty confetti, a sudden, sodden heap. Even after the cordon, the cleanup, after surgeries—so many--
pieces still missing, cracks and chinks, scars. A scar never really finishes healing, they tell me. Always trying and failing.
Eat plenty of fruit, fresh vitamin C, or the scurvy unzips you, rending the veil for good and all. Lying here for years, in this bed
I have time to think. To accustom. How real, how unreal, this life, this rickety frame. My space of days like anyone else’s, but not.
In this four-poster, in my pretty painted brace, my days slip away, and I illuminate, I germinate. Vines entwine the outlines, myself/not myself.
On the hazy canopy, she, the bony one this ragged flesh yields to the surface a little more each day. This gentle erosion used to upset me. Strange to say,
the more I imagine her now, the more peacetime she brings, as if, sometime soon, this bare changeling and I might reunite, might join our
hands, walking freely, gracefully, out into the unknown.
Joanna Grant holds a Ph.D. in British and American literature, specializing in fictional as well as nonfiction travel narratives of the Middle East. She spent eight years in that region, notably two years in Afghanistan, teaching writing, mythology, and public speaking classes to American soldiers and gathering materials for her own memoir, which she is currently completing as part of an MFA in Creative Nonfiction at Southern New Hampshire University under the direction of Mark Sundeen. Her poetry and prose have appeared widely in journals, including Guernica and Prairie Schooner.