From the diaries of Frida Khalo
Father didn’t like photographing people
he said he did not wish to improve
what God had made ugly.
Helping father during his epilepsy attacks
letting him breathe ether or alcohol
a fearful mystery.
At 15 the Preparatoria
where the revolution continues.
35 girls, 2000 boys.
The visible world is the domain of opinion
an intermediate state between knowledge and ignorance.
My painting is a mirror dragged along the highway.
The revolution of my face
Inventions that appear at the same moment
gunpowder and printer’s ink
the machine gun and the camera
radar and video
Diego and Frida.
Newspapers like a good crime
but a good war is better.
Mother had 160 gallstones removed and then died
leaving me to give birth to myself.
On September 17, 1925, a train ran through a bus
the steel hand rail entered my left side
came out through my vagina.
I lost my virginity
Doctors put me together like a photomontage.
I was in bed for a year
the voyeur of my own emotions.
After the accident everything slowed down
so that I could paint it.
I began to paint during convalescence from an accident
that forced me to stay in bed
for almost a year.
Buses were new to the city.
The day after the anniversary of the revolution
the marriage of the streetcar and the bus
First self portrait in 1926
a gift for Alejandro.
I love you more than ever
now that you are leaving me
Continuous fatigue, constant pain in spine and right leg
32 surgeries, mostly on the spine and right leg
I lived dying.
I never thought of painting before the accident
immobile in a plaster cast in bed.
How much I would like to explain my suffering to you
minute by minute.
Pity is stronger than love.
The struggle of the two Fridas
one dead, one alive.
I was the only painter
who gave birth to herself.
They come to console me
only to find themselves consoled.
The mask became the face.
How many revolutionaries
have the courage to name
what cannot be done?
Striking for an independent national university
samurai of my country
“We will not be convinced by violence.”
“Beauty that enlightens and serves the struggle”
fighting with images as ammunition
a living part of the class war.
I was not born beautiful
I created it out of necessity
as a shield.
The accident made me beautiful
Diego made me ugly
I needed both.
Diego was susceptible to love like a weather vane.
Diego was not a nice guy
but he knew how to look like one.
Diego’s old mistress came to the wedding
lifted my dress and said
You see these two sticks?
These are the legs Diego has instead of mine!
Diego has no friends, only allies.
He has a thousand kisses
but keeps most for himself.
Mae West is the most wonderful machine for living
I have ever known.
Detroit, 4th of July
second miscarriage, everywhere blood
I have a cat’s luck.
A third abortion, appendix removed, foot surgery
Diego: “The more I loved her, the more I wanted to hurt her.”
German assassins fire two shots into Diego’s studio
aimed at me
but I have been replaced.
Diego is away
having an affair with my sister Cristina.
When his doctor pronounced him
unfit for fidelity
Diego happily followed the prescription.
I drank because I wanted to drown my sorrows
but now my sorrows can swim.
I painted only the essential, the necessary
I didn’t have time for the rest.
I had to remind my male lovers
that my husband was perfectly capable
The universe of this face
the conquistador of happiness.
Andre Breton writes me
“The art of Frida Kahlo is a ribbon around a bomb.”
No civilized state will execute
someone who is ill
till it makes the someone well
enough to kill
in a civilized state
like a poem does.
I follow my hand
my body is the frame
through which the painting passes.
My affair with Trotsky.
The revolution had not made him
a better lover
My belly is full of anarchists
laying bombs into my poor intestines.
In Paris with Breton
poisoning the air with theories.
The big cacas of Surrealism
playing truth or consequences
refusing to tell my age.
My punishment? Making love to the armchair.
Helping 400 refugees from the Spanish Civil War
come to Mexico.
It is six in the morning
and the turkeys are singing.
Diego is the name of love.
Diego and the revolution.
On his 54th birthday, we married for the second time.
Diego spent the day painting at Treasure Island.
He took off his shirt in the heat
and showed his undershirt, covered with my lipstick.
He was never mine
he belonged to himself.
I only paint the invisible
Although I am lame
it is preferable not to pay attention
one could kick the bucket
You know why they do all those crazy things?
because they have no personality.
You will be an artist because you have talent.
The large male parrot cursed
No me pasa la cruda!
(I can’t get over this hangover!)
I get on better with carpenters and shoemakers
then with that crowd of so-called civilized chatterboxes
called cultivated people.
My hoof, paw or foot is getting better.
I smoke a lot
I drink no cocktailitos anymore
but I have a continuous desire to burp.
Every day I’m becoming more ill tempered.
If there is any remedy in medicine
which improves the humour of people like me
please advise me.
I can no longer work
all movement exhausts me.
I got a little better with the metal corset
but now I feel just as sick again
and cannot find anything to improve
the condition of my spine.
28 corsets after 1944
one made of steel, three leather,
the rest are plaster
After the operation
hanging from steel rings
feet not quite touching the ground.
Painting, telling jokes and funny stories.
The next doctor, the next diagnosis
the next operation, will bring relief.
I spend my life cloistered
in this mansion of forgetfulness
dedicated to recovering and painting.
The death of my father
was something terrible for me
I think that’s why I became less well.
You remember how handsome he was
and how good?
When I can leave the house and walk
a crowd of boys follow.
They always like to go to the movies
I know because I was one of them
so please bring them with us
and buy some cigarettes for them.
The remarriage functions well
a small quantity of quarrels
fewer investigations of the tedious kind
with respect to other women
who frequently occupy a place in his heart.
I have learned that life is this way
and the rest is painted bread
(just an illusion).
I am going now
because I have to go to Mexico City
to buy paintbrushes and colour for tomorrow
and it is getting late.
Black toes and gangrene
one year in hospital
the stitches don’t heal over
the wound is not closing.
I knew that if I was ill enough
he would come.
With my new bone transplant
I feel like shooting my way out of the hospital
and starting my own revolution.
When I leave the hospital
there are three things I want to do
paint, paint, paint.
Today as never before
I am a Communist being.
I have read the history of my country
I know the class conflicts and economics
I am one cell of the complex revolutionary mechanism.
The revolution is harmony of form and colour
For the first time my painting
tries to help the line traced by the Party
My most intense friendships in the last years
Maria Félix, Teresa Proenza, Elena Vasquez Gomez, Machila Armida
I painted their names in pink on the bedroom wall.
A brain-damaged girl became obsessed with me
when I rejected her advances
she took poison
and died at the foot of my bed.
To my nurse Judith Ferreto
Please don’t leave me when I fall asleep
I need you nearby
so don’t go away immediately.
Diego downstairs in the living room
“If I were brave I would kill her
I cannot stand to see her suffer so.”
The marriage with Diego.
We have joined hunger with the desire to eat.
Why do I call him my Diego?
He never was or will be mine
he belongs to himself.
In 1953, my first solo exhibition in Mexico.
They performed a bone transplant
on the night of the opening
The doctors forbade me to go
I sent my bed so I could attend lying down.
The ambulance brought me in a stretcher
all of crippled Mexico came to give me a kiss
The performance of concealing pain
I cannot stand for more than ten minutes
and there is a threat of gangrene.
I am not sick, I am broken
but I am happy to be alive
as long as I can paint.
I’ve been sick for a year now
seven operations on my spinal column
Doctor Farill saved me.
I am still in the wheelchair
and I don’t know if I’ll walk again.
I have a plaster corset
I don’t feel any pain, only tired
and naturally, quite often, despair.
I feel uneasy about my painting.
above all I want to transform it
into something useful for the Communist revolutionary movement
since up to now
I have only painted the earnest portrayal
of myself. but I’m very far from work that could serve the Party.
I have to fight with all my strength
to contribute what my health allows
to the revolution.
The only true reason to live for.
For the first time in many years
I saw her leg.
The leg was very thin, as if it was broken, it hung from her.
It was so crippled, shrunk, degenerated
that I couldn’t understand
how she was able to put her foot into a boot.
Two toes were missing.
“I think the moment has come
when it would be better to cut off your leg.”
I am disintegration
night is falling in my life.
Quietly, the pain
noisily the suffering.
Love was leaving me
now my world was a strange one
of criminal silences.
I accepted its strong hand
so that they should live.
“Which dress do you want to wear?
Please bring me the one you made before you left
because all those things were done with love
and there is no love around here now.
The landscape is day and night
and a skeleton flees terrified
in the face of my will to live.
Don’t let your eyes cry
when I say good-bye.
I hope the exit is joyful
and I hope never to come back.
I’m off now to the port
where the golden ship lies
waiting to take me away.
This is good-bye.
And here is where I end.
I will always continue writing to you with my eyes
don’t forget me.