Life as Art

by Alice L. Gregory

Monkey sits on my back
tightens his tail around my larynx
Peers into the gaping holes
that threaten to rob me of identity

Like Frieda Kahlo’s
this body and soul are rent by wounds
inflicted by life
and Karmic marriage

Uterus and ovaries long ago sacrificed
a different malignancy now
claims ransom of my right breast
adding to the scarred map of years

Deep garnet-stain traces of early
wounds mark paths of ancient pain
Rivulets of scarlet slowly seep
through bandages, evidence of the new

Arteries and veins   tortuous structures
pulse and leak copious tears   crimson
and blue   that flow up and down bathing
all the broken pieces

Hateful serpentine line
holds countless drops of poison
relentlessly dripping   dripping   burning
Impossible to love

Monkey stares at this new monster
paws tight to chest   lips curled in grimace
as fangs bite deeply into
the only viable vein

Two parrots perch in my hair
brain hammered by insistent pecking
drumming   drumming   drumming
It is not time to surrender

Now weary and bone cold
A lizard   neon tail   translucent feet
climbs a screen   tries to outpace winter
I nod in empathy

Alice Gregory is a writer, art collector, and spiritual seeker. Prior to indulging in her artistic and spiritual passions, she enjoyed a career in Medical Record Administration. She has published a children’s book, The Truck With Three Names, for her grandsons.

About Life as Art—In 2002, I had a recurrent bout with cancer and began this poem. During that time, I read a biography of Frieda Kahlo and admired her ability to continue to produce wonderful art despite the pain of lifelong injuries and multiple surgeries. She served as a courageous inspiration to stay the course.