The Flower Carrier
Rivera’s Cargador de Flores shows an expressionless Mexican campesino burdened to earth, in his white cotton work clothes struggling on his knees with an enormous yellow straw basket of pink and purple flowers strapped to his back, pressing down. His huarache sandals planted, he pushes against them, trying to straighten his legs like a pack mule before he lugs the load to market. His wife, larger than life in a full red skirt, stands over him, hand on the basket as if to help, her face barely seen.
The painting label, or tombstone, provided by a San Francisco Museum of Contemporary Art curator, reads the portrait "perpetuating the stereotype of Mexico as a tranquil, pre-industrial utopia." But does it? I see a working man weighted with a cargo greater than himself, even larger than his helpful wife. Her face, if it expresses anything, expresses concern the charge is too heavy, that it may crush him, or his foot and their dreams of a bountiful harvest. The quietly desperate scene lacks tranquility. Even the flowers themselves, pretty as they might be, if less shrouded in netting, appear imprisoned.
Mike Lewis-Beck writes from Iowa City. He has pieces in American Journal of Poetry, Apalachee Review, Blue Collar Review, Cortland Review, Chariton Review, Eastern Iowa Review, The Ekphrastic Review, Guesthouse, Heavy Feather Review, Inquisitive Eater, Pilgrimage, Pennine Platform, Southword, and Wapsipinicon Almanac, among other venues. He has a book of poems, Rural Routes, published by Alexandria Quarterly.
The Ekphrastic Review
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