Inside Your Darkest Everything | Magdalena Ball

A harp and a Jacaranda were the music
“Memory”, Frida Kahlo


When I came to
I was alone
under the Jacaranda
the sky an evil purple
threatening to break

I held tight to the scaly trunk
for stability
and wondered

the world had shifted during the long night
your pain settling into my organs
inside the darkness spread
black ink flowed through my veins
pumping blood into the lungs

in three dimensions
there was muted colour
fractured through a prism
everything broken up
dispersed into elements.


Your eyes were bigger
than I remembered
heavy lidded without glasses
long plaits wrapped on your head
in flowers
emulating Frida again
your mirror twin
be-costumed and sharp
incorporeality no impediment
to the rousting march of your
big red boots.

As for me, I sat in the shadows
neither one thing nor another
trying desperately to make you
live again
a woebegone Doctor Frankenstein
pale with longing.


In wavering tones of ombre
you beckoned
strumming a harp
the blue house, the yellow chair
your hair suddenly alight
a halo of orange flames
crackled and burned.

Your laugh shook the floor
Día de los Muertos
as you dragged my arm
skin electric against
the shock of touch
heart exposed
like a vivisection
beating time.

Somehow, together
we drove your
beat-up car
on the wrong side
of consciousness
moving too fast down Market Street
the wood facade
of Woolen Mills Chapel
peeled open its doors
offering a peace we might
take up like pilgrims
if we weren’t so damned
secular, though I
wanted to believe
in something, anything
I was ready to
chant, sit shiva
do whatever it might take
to make this wild
goose chase
down cobblestones


I know this place, its corners
the dull scent of memory
that lingers on the drapes
the cheery sofas and pillows
the flameless candles that
outlived you.

On the rack by the front door
a neat row of shoes
that won’t be worn again
waiting, forever
for a foot
to animate them.

On the wall, a framed print
Magnolias surrounding
a prickly pear cactus flower
the lurid buds
stare me down
proud, in spite of their
ridiculous ephemerality
another layer that takes me
through the canvas
into all that was concealed
corseted, controlled
inside the lines
the perfect silence
those places a child never sees.

Magdalena Ball edits the Compulsive Reader ( She is the author of several novels (Black Cow, Sleep Before Evening), poetry books and chapbooks (Repulsion Thrust, Quark Soup, Sublime Planet). Her work has been shortlisted for a number of awards and translated into several languages and she has been involved in a number of anthologies and collaborations. Find out more about Magdalena at


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