El Miembro Marchito | Amy Wray Irish

Image: The Two Fridas, by Frida Kahlo

El Miembro Marchito

   after Frida Kahlo’s The Two Fridas, 1939

Separated, yet inseparable.
Invented, yet genuine as pain.
Perhaps all women do this—split

Ourselves, brutally cutting the pulsing wood
of our psyches, dividing
into two branches of self.

One—the withered limb, desiccated
by the outer blow. The other—still bright
with possibility, the ‘might have been.’

The before, the after. The killing stroke
that always comes.  Ironic that ‘growing up’
halts growth, strips all our weakness bare.

Perhaps inevitable—that we are no longer alive
with possibility. But once shattered,
we are still fed by childhood.

Strength still trickles in. Our other half still pumps
blood into the damaged core, those uprooted
roots. Believes that miracles still exist.

Perhaps all women do this—we replant
in our own fallow bodies, over and over,
gestating our own rebirth.  Perhaps we separate

So there is still someone to offer succor,
still someone to love that withered limb,
still someone to hold onto to hope.

Perhaps all women do this—we survive.

Amy Wray Irish was raised on regular visits to The Chicago Art Museum, where she developed her passion for writing about art and history. Her 2020 chapbook, Breathing Fire, received the Fledge Award from Middle Creek Publishing. Her forthcoming chapbook, Down to the Bone: Poetry for a Post-Roe World, was the winner of Poetry Mesa’s 2022 chapbook contest. To read more of her work, go to amywrayirish.com.

Frida Kahlo’s The Wounded Deer, 1946 — Karen George

Photo by: Felix Hansen


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 Author photo

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.