Fiona Zerbst’s Oleander

   
Legacy – after Frida Kahlo
Fiona Zerbst
  
‘We must sleep with open eyes, we must dream with our hands’
Octavio Paz

  
I.
 
This column of air.
These nights of broken stone.
This flesh that speaks.
 
If Mexico is Frida,
It is also
Fig and prickly pear,
 
Water gods, dry ears
Of corn, torn as petticoats.
 
 
II.
 
Vanilla jar of dead water
Circled by a peacock.
 
This is what is left to those
Who linger in the courtyard.
 
Her legacy of nails in flesh,
Tears of pomegranate:
 
A broken column
Painted as herself.
 
 
III.
 
Frida dreams in turquoise;
Now vertical, her bed
A crushed infinity.
 
Reflected in her mirror,
This heart that frills the sand’s
Dry life with blood.
 
 
IV.
 
This column of air,
These nights of broken stone,
This flesh that speaks.
 
If Mexico is Frida,
Then it is also
Paintbrush and suffering,
 
Icon of desire,
spine of jewelled bone.
 
 
V.
 
As she paints,
She dreams with her hands.
 
As we watch,
A butterfly sticks
 
To coils of her hair.
That flat plate of brow
 
Is a golden canvas
To feast from.
 
 
From Oleander (Modjaji Books, 2009).
  
Read four poems from Oleander at Rustum Kozain’s blog, Groundwork.
  
To purchase Oleander, contact Colleen Higgs at Modjaji Books:
cdhiggs@gmail.com
  
 
Launch
  
You are cordially invited to Oleander’s launch – Fiona will be reading – at the Cape Town Book Fair on 14 June 2009 from 17h30 to 18h30 at the DALRO Stage in the CTICC exhibition halls.
  
Visit Fiona’s blog.

7 thoughts on “Fiona Zerbst’s Oleander

  1. Michelle Post author

    Isn’t it beautiful! Fiona’s a wonderful poet. I’m so looking forward to holding her collection in my hands.

  2. Christine

    I continue to be amazed at the breadth Frida Khalo’s influence in the world. Her art and the story of her life are proving to outlast Diego Rivera’s. Beautiful poem, it captures Frida’s Mexico, and Frida herself.

  3. Regina

    Oh, how I love this- and being a huge fan of Frida’s, well, I was instantly smitten. Thank you SO much, Michelle, for posting this. I’m going to check out the other links- I am a fan now!🙂

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