tehuana brides

Self Portrait as a Tehuana, 1943 and Self Portrait, 1948.


Two self-portraits in elaborate Tehuana headdress

Two disembodied faces. Frida’s famous

penetrating gaze, dark eyebrows, faint moustache

carnal red lips. In the eyes he sees the difference


In the earlier painting she stares from the canvas

a devouring spider at the centre of a web

of white and black tendrils. White fibres

spring live wire from the huipil to the world

beyond the frame. Unrooted black tentacles

grope unruly for earth from the veins of green leaves

that adorn the bougainvillea and daises in her hair


Diego smiles at his miniature likeness,

a third eye, a portrait within a portrait

painted on her brow. So like Frida

to mimic the portraits of Catholic nuns

who hold the image of Christ

Does Frida dream she can capture him

or is she satisfied simply to trap

the thought of him on her forehead?


In the later canvas her face pokes through

the elaborate headdress as if through a stage flat

The flowers are faded and sere, the vegetation

withered in the background. She painted

three pearl teardrops on her cheeks

Her face is composed, but he sees

the turmoil, the rejection and rage

beneath her skin, the sadness in her eyes


One Tehuana bride for devouring love

the other for surrender