Girl with Lilies Knockoff

Brent Ameneyro
| poetry


I exchanged two metal filing cabinets
and twenty dollars for it. She responded
to my post on an app that connects
people interested in selling
or trading within a thirty-mile radius.
She had another, Nude with
Calla Lilies. I wanted to hang it,
the one with the purple dress,
over my dining table. The Flower Carrier
was on a wall in my childhood home
until Mom found out about Diego’s
tempestuous nature. The more Mom read,
the barer the walls, the less music played.
I think I saw a purple dress like this one
at Frida’s house in Mexico City.
I don’t remember calla lilies
looking this grand in the flesh. If not Frida,
campesino (the death of a way of life).
Gather the flowers with a delicate
touch so they might be used at the funeral
for heritage. One early calla lily
meaning originates in ancient Greece,
where the flower was thought
to represent magnificent beauty.
This origin stems from a tale
regarding Hercules as a baby,
according to
(how else does one find the meaning
of a flower?). Sometimes Diego mixed
sand into his oil paint for texture
or maybe to preserve part of the land,
so if all of Mexico was destroyed,
some of it would live on in secret;
a whisper to some billionaire
art collector hundreds of years after
his death. The Rivals sold at Christie’s
New York in 2018 for nine million
seven hundred sixty-two thousand
five hundred United States dollars.
In comparison, two metal filing cabinets
and twenty bucks felt like a good deal.
The wood frame alone might cost twenty.
Green leaves larger than her torso
like the ones in the rainforest
I imagined were happy
to be covered in water far from the city
(some rendition of happiness
plants must feel, anyway).
Here, above the dining table now,
white calla lilies with yellow hearts.
There is no clear light source—
everything appears bright,
full of color.

Brent Ameneyro is the 2022–23 Letras Latinas Poetry Coalition Fellow at the University of Notre Dame’s Institute for Latino Studies. His poetry has been published or is forthcoming in Alaska Quarterly Review, The Iowa Review, Ninth Letter, The Journal, and elsewhere. He currently serves as the Poetry Editor at The Los Angeles Review.

Poem Ending with a Line from Octavio Paz
His father goes out looking for a mink or pine marten