Frida Kahlo – Self-Portrait with Cropped Hair (1940)

Rochelle Hurt
| Memoir


oil on canvas


Mira que si te quise, fué por el pelo, Ahora que estás pelona, ya no te quiero.

Look, if I loved you, it was for your hair, Now that you’re bald, I don’t love you anymore.


[art loves revenge. don’t tell the future it’s strewn across the floor. his if held the scissors. his if was the blade sliding closer to the root. his if was the suit she outgrew the minute the paint dried. were you ever revenged by a painting? the invitation to my ex’s senior show failed to mention i was the subject. his speech began on my empty seat beside him in a plane to London. in the back of the room, where everyone knew i’d be, i lost a dimension or two. but portraiture is always tit for tat—ask Wilde. i gave him a face, he gave me attention in buckets. i took it away and he painted his hurt into a mural. when Kahlo’s husband slept with her sister, the ifs all shuffled out of the room. once a boy said he saw himself in me, and i understood it was an appraisal. to work now i wear a suit. on dates i wear contingency. when a woman makes a self-portrait, she breaks the art contract. self-shorn, Kahlo is a woman tipped. her side-eye slices the canvas in two, severs the if from the you. whispering through the menswear, her heels and earrings make a costume. of him, i mean. maybe of me. when i take off a man’s clothes, who do i get to be?]

Rochelle Hurt is the author of the poetry collections The J Girls: A Reality Show (Indiana University Press, 2022); In Which I Play the Runaway (Barrow Street, 2016); and The Rusted City (White Pine, 2014). She lives in Orlando and teaches in the MFA program at the University of Central Florida.

The baby was perfect and
Suzanne Duchamp-Crotti – Ariette d’oubli de la chapelle étourdie (1920)