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Reflections on Frida Kahlo's The Bus
by Frederick W. Bassett

On first viewing the painting, its social diversity
slaps me in the face with a backhanded
realization that there is no cultural cure for it.

On second reflection, I can only identify
with the boy who is unmindful
of his fellow travelers but mesmerized
by the world beyond the window,
which was my stance at his age.

How intriguing the Indian mother's
adaptive stratagem for public nursing—
a shawl to hide the suckling at her breast.
More than once as a boy, I walked into a room
where one of my aunts was nursing a new cousin.
There was no shawl nor reaction to me.

Mother nursed ten children in total privacy
as far as I know. The second born,
I never once saw a sibling at her breast.
No, a shawl would not have sufficed
for my inhibited Mother who, thankfully,
never had to ride a public bus with an infant.

Ah, but what a ride with Frida Kahlo on The Bus.
Who doesn't love the art of her reflective eyes?

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