“I’m glad you sent the girl away.
A heart so young, so innocent, so… alive
shouldn’t have to witness this sort of thing.”
don’t you hear the girl’s steps?
She’s stomping our way.”
My mother-in-law’s shaky hand,
the one she had held over my words,
fell limp against the side of her black dress.
“I tried to tell you,” I whispered.
“What’s wrong with you, girl?
You grow to mock another’s loss?
Such queerness it’s not—”
“She’s an ordinary child, suegra mia;
giving, loving, traditionally fed
by this land.”
“I,” said my child,
twirling a wild flower with unsure fingers,
her voice low under the Death Mask,
“I wanted to say goodbye to the old grandmother,
give her a bright bloom for her travels,
and sing for the one who will come in her place.
Am I being queer, mamá mia?”
I took a knee in front of tomorrow,
removed the Death Mask and touched her skin.
“Look into my smile, flesh of mine,
do you see queerness in this grin?”
“But Grandma said—”
“Your Grandma’s new to Pueblo Viejo.
We have to talk, to fight, to smile, to dance, to eat
together until we see each other proper.”
I handed the Death Mask to my mother-in-law.
The old custom shook in her knowing grasp.
She took a knee in front of tomorrow,
and they smiled together, before mi suegra said,
“Would you tell me about little girls and death masks?”
Note: yesterday, a dear friend told me that she was so happy for the miracle of having found one another; there were days, when the world made her feel like a freak. I slept with her feelings under my pillow… This poem brewed in my heart, while I dreamed of worlds where the word “freak” defined nothing more than an ordinary things kept under ignorance’s mask.
Girl with Death Mask, by Frida Kahlo