Self-Portrait With Monkeys
by Caitlin Doyle
- After Frieda Kahlo’s painting
When I open the medicine cabinet, their fingers fly
in all directions. Bottles jump
from hand to hand, rattling like maracas in child-size fists.
Pills tumble to the ground
or onto tongues; the sad one tosses back
the angry one’s dose, the circus has-been
mistakes the antidepressants for peanuts,
and the prescription for separation
anxiety ends up scattered through the house.
You can try to pry them off but if you
pet them (go ahead) they’re harmless.
Except for the klepto, and maybe the one who hides – a girl,
whose tail will curl from a button-hole
and beckon finger-like. She’ll tickle
you while the klepto does his work,
or, if you come close enough, she’ll hook
her tail into my pocket and give you back
your watch. Closer,
and you’ll meet her sister who lives in my hair;
don’t be alarmed to see her black eyes spill over.
She would have preferred a musician with a glittering
music-box whose handle she could turn
but she got me instead, tapping her nails at the base of my neck
to send the vibrations through my throat and into my tonsils
that tremble like a forked tuner
and out onto my tongue that produces,
always, only words.