The poem, “Marie Blanchard, 1914”

appears in

Letters to the World:

Poems from the Wom-Po Listserv






Years later, she laughed about the steak

that came between her and Rivera

in the studio they shared in Paris,

how it weighed raw on the plate,

uncovered for days, a naturaleza muerta

that grew more muerta each day.

She'd put up with his visions

of man-eating spiders, his stare, too,

at bedposts and lamps; he'd thrown his shoe

at the light bulbs, broken the bathroom mirror

each day.  Each day, she'd replace the mirror,

talk him through.

So the steak left to rot

did not symbolize their friendship.

For his part, it was not

a macho matter of cooking exactly.

He had rustled up feasts for many,

filled the table with Mexican dishes once

for Angelina, Apollinaire, and Modigliani.

But Diego would not fry a steak for one woman.

Two weeks passed.  The meat, looking

slimy, then green, looked worse.

And Marie wouldn't ditch the mess, become

just one of the rest of his women, cooking,

cleaning, washing, and cooking more--

though most of his other women were painters.

Why, Angelina's work shrank to miniatures

while she fed his appetites,

the way Frida, two wives later in '32

would drop her brush to walk to his scaffold

carrying a lunch basket covered

with napkins hand-embroidered, "I adore you."

Not Marie.  Not her.  She ignored the stench.

But the neighbors couldn't.  The twentieth day

they sent the janitor who came and took

plate, steak, and stench away.






Originally printed in Slant ©Diane Kendig 1998