Cinqo Labios, by Catherine Marenghi
Before she lived,
no one owned the colour blue.
After her, all claims and suitors
dropped away like lily petals
one by one.
She kissed them all goodbye.
After her, azul anil was hers alone.
She wrapped her broken body in it,
framed her high-cheekboned face
and surly brows that challenged
everything that came before.
She alone flung her useless womb
outside her body, multiplied her organs
on her canvases, saying
One of me is not enough.
Am I too much chocolate for your table?
Too much kissing, too much bleeding?
Then let me multiply it further,
until you see me.
Let me leave my lipstick tracks
across your face, wear my own lips
Do not dare frame me
in the shadow of a hulking man,
my fire dismissed as mere hobby.
Watch me climb the ladder in my long skirt
and withered leg, paint the tall murals knowing
lesser men will claim them as their own.
Watch me do what none of them can do.
The colour blue ran to her,
lunged into her ample skirts,
and then the other colours followed:
bougainvillea red, saffron yellow,
white of starched lace, rebozo stripe, mixing
paint and milk and blood.
The square huipil, enagua skirt,
the heavy threads and beads of her
cinched in Guatemalan sash—
All the colours ran to her.
They alone were faithful to her.
After her, the colours all lost their names
like scattered orphans. All of them
were wordless in her presence,
as her lips and hearts and wombs
arranged themselves like tissue-paper flowers
on her long-remembered canvases.
Her face and life gargantuan, impossible to fathom,
and her lips, enduring, tender, and yet
like five prolonged kisses.
A native of Massachusetts, Catherine Marenghi is an award-winning poet and the author of Breaking Bread: Poems (Finishing Line Press, 2020). Her work has appeared in literary journals in the U.S. and Mexico. She received first-place honors in separate contests judged by poets Richard Blanco and Jennifer Clement. Her poems also twice received first-place honours from the Academy of American Poets University and College Poetry Prize program. She also authored Glad Farm: A Memoir (Tate Publishing, 2016), an acclaimed story of poverty, loss, and resilience; President Jimmy Carter called it “inspiring.” She holds an M.A., B.A. summa cum laude in English from Tufts University, where she studied with Denise Levertov and X.J. Kennedy, and currently divides her time between Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.
12/15/2020 01:21:20 pm
Absolutely LOVE this. A gorgeous poem (and a gorgeous painting).
1/8/2021 09:54:49 am
"The color blue ran to her"--such a beautiful poem!!!
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