Frida Kahlo Is Alive and Well

Frida Kahlo Is Alive and Well

We set out early across the warm dark waters on an old skiff we’d bartered from a spry half-blind Mexican fisherman in a cantina the night before.  Our desiccated skulls crackling the whole way across from the cheap mescal we’d been goaded on to drink as the bar lights dimmed to a woozy nimbus of soft amber globes and the whole world became soft and vague before giving way to sleep.  So the boat trip was silent and pained and we moored gingerly and waded to the bank while unseen creatures flickered and thrummed in the air around us.  But then as we pushed through the thick undergrowth, where cricket poachers and worm wranglers with pockets full of salted chocolate pushed past us in the opposite direction beneath the shade of giant hats, we felt our spirits begin to revivify, sensing something special was upon us  That what they said could not be done was being done.  And then suddenly, The Blue House, standing strong in the burnished light of sunrise — transported brick by brick from the outskirts of Mexico City and set down on this half-forgotten island.  Finally, pale twists of tobacco smoke and the outstretched right leg of Frida Kahlo resting on a brocade cushion under a canopy of fronds.  She smiled and was gracious and greeted us warmly as the ghosts of her loved ones peopled the shadows — although there was no mention of Diego Rivera or Leon Trotsky by name, and something in her dark keen eyes forbade it.  In the end she agreed to pose for photos, but only on the condition that we shot her from the waist up, as her old injuries had returned in this dark seclusion, leaving her with a withered gait and a shape she distrusted in her own bowed limbs.  Her eyes were unfathomable and secret.  And this is what we photographed.  Of course when we returned to the shallows at the edge of the island our boat was gone.

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