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Diego Rivera, the Flower Carrier, 1935

He kneels under the burden of flowers,
looking down, he cannot feel their beauty.
The purple heft of it weighs him down.
His yellow sling used to latch the cradle
of picked ones, feels flimsy
as if it could slip off                 like a scarf, a dress.

Woman, stout & heavily garmented,
do you see how she holds steady—with strong arms
the bounty of one. While he, he’s bent down
all fours pushing the earth. She’s the unburdened
one, free of the sling, watching him struggle.
She looks down upon him as if she’s the one

shamed by the idea. She must resort to sweat
because in this world, nobody’s eyes are visible.
They must hide their sweat here. Under the brim
of a hat, under the dark        shade of birth,
under the voice of rustled overgrown leaves,
I can only imagine the cost of not coming up.

Again the flowers are light in his hands.
Thorn-trimmed by delicate shears, he takes
them to the florists, the market, his grandmother
.Each one is pressed then gently inside the folds
of books read by candlelight. Does the flower carrier
know the feat of finishing a book or do you imagine

all his life, he’s carried loads each night, too exhausted
to finish anything but this task. Does he dream about
petals he finds stuck in his lapel, pressed inside his shoes,
the way they somehow stain his clothes. How the dusk
& wet dirt wear his linen knees when he kneels
again & again to lift the new basket full.

How he must wash these white clothes each day,
carefully by hand. How he scrubs & scrubs the dirt
out, to feel opulent against the small work done.
How he rises so clean each morning, doing what needs
to be done among the vibrant hues.

Son of Mexican immigrants. Writer in The Missouri Review, Blackbird, Kenyon Review. Editor-in-chief @ THE BOILER. MFA from Sarah Lawrence.