Self-portrait in the Bathtub

After Frida Kahlo’s, What the Water Gave Her

Hers was a wash with water
of a certain shade, telling
this portrait
after the fact
mine is now a bloodless scene
a wash with no colour at all
signifying the lack.
If I hold my breath
it could be a ghost story
zooming in
on the murky ripples.

It is the silence
the feet out of water
that chills in those movies
the slow creep
of water circling.

The director knows
the power of stark white tiles
negative spaces, outlines, shadows
the terror of the unspoken shade
nothing to see here, now
no telling Daliesque reenactments
just the same foreboding drain
just feet

Anna Forsyth


Listen to Anna reading ‘Self-portrait in the Bathtub’ (0:58)


Anna Forsyth is a poet and editor originally from New Zealand now living in New South Wales. She is the founder of feminist poetry organisation Girls on Key Poetry, where she is the editor of the small press. Her work has appeared in print and online, including in FourW, Not Very Quiet, Poetry NZ, Headland and Landfall. Her latest poetry collection is entitled Beatific Toast.

© 2020, text and audio