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The poem, “Marie Blanchard, 1914”
Letters to the World:
Poems from the Wom-Po Listserv
MARIE BLANCHARD, 1914
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