We know Frida Kahlo the painter, but we’re all less familiar with Frida, the poet.
In fact, Frida was committed to paper as much as she was committed to canvas.
Long before she started expressing her thoughts by paint brush, she expressed them by words.
Before becoming Frida the poet, Kahlo was recognized as a woman who mastered the art of writing letters to her friends, and lovers. One letter sent to her boyfriend Alejandro Gómez still gives me the chills to this day. After being severely injured in a bus accident, Alejandro stopped visiting her. She wrote to him:
And if you have nothing to say to me, send me a blank paper or say the same thing 50 times, but that will show me that you remember me at least…
In another letter to him, she wrote:
So, my darling, I am writing to you. I imagine that must be because I don’t love you at all.
Her poignant words happened to touch the core of my being way before her paintings did. My admiration for Frida grew more intense when I learned about the poems that she wrote later in her life. Those poems were her special medium of expression, especially the ones that were written for Diego.
When I read them, I can relate, because for me words are the strongest means of pouring what’s in my heart and soul into a message to share with the world. And although sometimes I fail to put into words what can’t be expressed, Frida did so successfully (and brilliantly).
Despite the many lovers she had throughout her life, Diego was the only one who stole her heart. The poems they found about Diego in Frida’s journals ascertain how deep, and how mysterious love can be. Diego induced extensive suffering in Frida’s life. Regardless, one can clearly see in her words how profound her love for him remained. It was unshakable, resilient and magical.
I find great joy when I read Frida’s poems as they represent her voice. Writing and painting are both considered artistic and inspirational. In a painting, we can discern the painter’s thoughts. In a poem, we can hear these thoughts.
For those who have never read Frida’s poems, I only hope they move you as much as her colors do.
Here are four of my favorite ones:
Mirror of the night.
Your eyes green swords
inside my flesh,
waves between our hands.
All you in a space full of sounds
in the shade and in the light.
You were called AUXO-CHROME: the one who captures color.
I CHROMOPHORE: the one who gives color.
You are all the combinations
My wish is to understand lines, form, shades, movement.
You fulfill and I receive.
Your word travels the entirety of space and reaches my cells
which are my stars
then goes to yours
which are my light.
Truth is, so great, that I wouldn’t like to speak,
or sleep, or listen, or love.
To feel myself trapped, with no fear of blood,
outside time and magic, within your own fear,
and your great anguish,
and within the very beating of your heart.
All this madness, if I asked it of you, I know, in your silence,
there would be only confusion.
I ask you for violence, in the nonsense, and you,
you give me grace, your light and your warmth.
I’d like to paint you, but there are no colors,
because there are so many, in my confusion,
the tangible form of my great love.
I am no longer alone.
You accompany me.
You put me to sleep and you revive me.
Nothing compares to your hands,
nothing like the green-gold of your eyes.
My body is filled with you for days and days.
You are the mirror of the night,
the violent flash of lightning,
the dampness of the earth.
The hollow of your armpits is my shelter,
my fingers touch your blood.
All my joy is to feel life spring from your flower-fountain
that mine keeps to fill all the paths of my nerves
which are yours.
It’s not love,
It’s life itself, my life,
that I found what I saw it in your hands,
in your mouth and in your breasts.
I have the taste of almonds from your lips in my mouth.
Our worlds have never gone outside.
Only one mountain can know the core of another mountain.
Your presence floats for a moment or two
as if wrapping my whole being in an anxious wait for the morning.
I notice that I’m with you.
At that instant still full of sensations,
my hands are sunk in oranges,
and my body feels surrounded by your arms.
Frida Kahlo Retrospective
The Diary of Frida Kahlo: An Intimate Self-Portrait
Author: Elyane Youssef
Editor: Caitlin Oriel