LARB is cooking up a storm!

For today only, donate $50 or more and get our limited-edition LARB Tea Towel designed by Mads Gobbo.
Tea Towel

Federico García Lorca, Valentine

By Natalie DiazFebruary 14, 2013

Federico García Lorca, Valentine

THIS POEM IS A VALENTINE of devouring — simultaneously shadowed and red silken. Is there any other kind?

As well as a valentine, this poem is also a prayer to the body. Readers witness a wanting that nears madness, passion as it meant when it first came to be a word — a suffering, a violence. To invoke the god, Eros.

Instead of hiding them away, the poem licks the bright teeth of its appetite, bares them at “thighs like evening” and “breasts like magnolias.” Lucía Martínez is the air and the sky and the trees and the blooms. She is everything.

Brought to image in the third stanza is that intimate lovers’ moment of almost-annihilation — the desire yet inability to become one, the torture of touch that now greedily represents all that is not touched, this moment of realization and despair that there can be no remedy for such mad-ache other than to crush the beloved, or to climb beneath their skin, or to grab a handful of their hair and to carry and be carried into the purpled dawn.

I’m sending this valentine to you. Why? Because I want to. Because I can.

— Natalie Diaz


Federico García Lorca, “Lucía Martínez”


     Lucía Martínez.

Umbría de seda roja.


     Tus muslos como la tarde

van de la luz a la sombra.

Los azabaches recónditos

oscurecen tus magnolias.


     Aquí estoy, Lucía Martínez.

Vengo a consumir tu boca

y arrastrarte del cabello

en madrugada de conchas.


     Porque quiero, y porque puedo.

Umbría de seda roja.


English translation by Alan S. Trueblood:


     Lucía Martínez.

Shadowy in red silk.


     Like the evening, your thighs

move from light into shadow.

Hidden veins of jet

darken your magnolias.


     Here I am, Lucía Martínez.

I’ve come to devour your mouth

and drag you off by the hair

into the seashells of daybreak.


     Because I want to and I can.

Shadowy in red silk.

[more Valentine's Day poems]

LARB Contributor

Natalie Diaz was born and raised in the Fort Mojave Indian Village in Needles, California, on the banks of the Colorado River. She is Mojave and an enrolled member of the Gila River Indian Tribe. Diaz teaches at Arizona State University, and her first poetry collection is When My Brother Was an Aztec. [Photo by Cybele Knowles.]


LARB Staff Recommendations

  • Let the Flowers Speak to the Love Stuff

    Valentine’s Day is here, and the pressure to be sexy is on. Run of the mill avenues of seduction include flowers and a lingering dinner followed by something sweet. A few of us throw lingerie and jewelry into the mix. ...

    Did you know LARB is a reader-supported nonprofit?

    LARB publishes daily without a paywall as part of our mission to make rigorous, incisive, and engaging writing on every aspect of literature, culture, and the arts freely accessible to the public. Please consider supporting our work and helping to keep LARB free.