Deer body smoothly fused into Frida’s neck and head, antlers a tiara, a crown of thorns. One earring hangs like a tear from her furred ear. Caught mid-leap, trying to escape pain. Pierced by nine arrows, blood flows, the worst wound her heart.
Enveloped by bare trees, brittle skeletons with gashes of their own, blighted or struck by lightning, cores hollow.
Frida turns her face to us—defiant death mask. Tail tucked, all four feet off ground. The balmy blue of water and sky, no help. Bent legs so thin, soft underbelly pale. Beneath her, a torn branch, alive for only seconds longer.
In Catholic grade school, I was given a holy card of the martyr St. Sebastian, tied to a tree. Neck, ribs, waist, groin, legs punctured with arrows, face contorted. I crushed it into a fist, flushed it down the toilet.
Karen George is author of five chapbooks, and two collections from Dos Madres Press: Swim Your Way Back (2014) and A Map and One Year (2018). She has appeared in South Dakota Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Adirondack Review, Louisville Review, and Naugatuck River Review. She reviews poetry at Poetry Matters and is co-founder and fiction editor of the online journal, Waypoints. Visit her website or on Twitter: @karenlgeo.