Back to Issue Nine.




for Frida Kahlo

Lady, keep the tequila by your lamp for
when you need a knife. Dip the brush in
azul for feathers so a bird will fly
above your bed & you can wash away

the memory of his sweat, the taste
of hothouse flower women. Your whiteness
is twin: one side a mirror—see what
you are
, the other a window, I have already

changed the sky. Girls are
stripping the petals, dusting their
tiny mouths with sugar & smashed
pecans. When you spin in your

white dress, greet the crowd with
your stained mouth. A dove
and an elephant
, they murmur,
but you’re rewriting the song

into a jungle. Bring
out the longest rope & tie it
to him—say, I will look at you
until the blood runs out
. This is when

the shadows start & you will
walk him back to the banquet,
knowing that what is colorless
is not innocent, nor safe.

Shelley Wong is a Kundiman fellow and a poetry editor for The Journal. Her poems have appeared or will appear in Devil’s Lake, CutBank, Nashville Review, Lantern Review, and Linebreak, among others.