“Moses” -after Frida Kahlo

This is a first for me. I’ve never written an Ekphrastic poem. For one, it’s a funny word. According to Merriam-Webster, it means “a literary description of or commentary on a visual work of art.”

So, to write an Ekphrastic poem, you need a work of art. We were given a choice of four paintings and I chose the work by Frida Kahlo, a Mexican painter, simply entitled: Moses. Unfortunately, the painting is protected by copywrite. If you want to see it, you’ll have to Google it. It is a complex painting of three religions with differing beliefs all centered around Moses as a babe in the River Nile. After a bit of research, I learned that the artist painted it in response to a book she had read by Carl Jung in addition to her own fears of death. Sadly, her interpretation of the story of Moses is that he was a mythical hero. Apparently, the painting was to become a mural but she died before that was accomplished. Yes, the whole story of this painting is quiet complex.

“Moses”
-after Frida Kahlo

Was it your fear of death, or fear of life,
that loaded your brush with rust and
bulrushes, tears and bones? Is that your
womb crying out for false legends of plagues

and princes to placate a lost soul, a lost
goal where sinners, flesh, and word meet?
Mythical hero, dear artist? Your paint speaks
volumes, lies, and scorn of a righteous man.

I hear not your heart but rather another’s—
Jung’s  rings of mixing and stirring the Gnostic
and Light, the powers of three worlds, just to be
sure of naught. As you set your brush across

your chest and breathe one last breath, I see
the canvas of an artist unfinished, dabbling
inside a mural of her unabashed memoir.

You paint a question with gifted hands.
But, a question is not the answer.

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