World Literature

The Pearl – Poetry from Costa Rica

María Macaya Martén, a poetess from a beautiful Central American country, known as capital of Hummingbirds, shares her three poems

I have saved you like a pearl, the most valuable pain I have in my body, because if I don’t cry these tears, pieces of lead, it may be that none of this has happened.

María Macaya Martén

María Macaya Martén (San José, Costa Rica, 1991). Master in Comparative Literature from the University of Oxford, in England. She specialized in poetry, French symbolism, and Spanish-American modernism. Prior to her master’s degree, she obtained a degree in Comparative Literature at Middlebury College, in Vermont, United States. During third year at university she was a visiting student at the University of Costa Rica and the University of Nueva Sorbonne, in Paris. Upon completing her studies, she returned to Costa Rica and taught English at the Universidad Latina and at the University of Costa Rica. Her first book of poetry, Immobile Wind, received a Special Mention from the Jury in the 2019 Poetry Contest of the Editorial of the University of Costa Rica, and was published in 2020. Her work has been published virtually Chontales Litterae Magazine. She also participated in the Young Poetry of Costa Rica, the Virtual Book Festival, the International Fair of the Ibero-American Institute and other virtual recitals.


The Pearl

I have saved you like a pearl

The most valuable pain I have in my body.

Because if I don’t cry these tears, pieces of lead

It may be that none of this has happened.


The day I saw you for the last time among the sick crowd

On a gurney in the corridor of a public hospital,

It was a dream, it was a dream, it was a dream.


You are still in your apartment

On the couch in the living room watching the city

Through the closed window!


I take care of you like an impure treasure

Guarded by layers and layers of mother-of-pearl,

Laughter exhaled carelessly

As if you were still in the world with me,

I didn’t have to bother

And process your death.


You are a seed stuck there at the bottom of a tooth.

You will never mature in single word or absolute truth.

Your name is a plane that falls from the sky

How could I afford it, my God!


Inveterate in private tantrum I get frustrated

Because I had you and suddenly I don’t have you.

You make me uncomfortable every day and I love you

But I can’t reach you when I want to.


I feel idiot

When I lose you in a corner

Of my multiple aqueducts!


My face swells, I’m infected

Because you work from your hiding place

Eating me so slow, so slow

That I do not perceive you evil worm!


I’ve been naive for months

Walking through the rotten world,

Eating everything, glutton,

And remaining empty!

My father’s death

Life is a story; death is the end of a sentence.

Writing these lines are the greatest sin I have ever committed in life.

Please forgive me if you can

If not, it is too late.


My dad died in a hospital bed, like many others.

His bird’s head lay bathed in divine sweat.

His breath shook his body

As the wind suddenly lifts dry leaves from the sky


How many fiery autumns we spent in Vermont!

Cutting through the cold air with a red Ferrari, through fairytale towns at noon

“Mais quelle belle vie, en esperant qu’elle dura toujours!”

He exclaimed, sticking his arm out the window and spreading his fingers.

Was this a dream?


It was night.

The closed windows of the room kept a honeyed light, the noise of the air

Conditioning, the red and green numbers of the medical equipment, and the probes as lianas

His breath was a child sobbing alone in the distance,

The last scabs of life that was clinging hopelessly.

A dignified tantrum!

But with every jerk of the head back

They were expelled and joined like drops to the mist of the scene.

In communion they were part of something bigger and they relaxed.


Something like those sunsets over the hill on cool days.

The last phosphorescent drop slipped and fell hopelessly between the legs of the mountain.

His gray eyes, fixed on the dying red dot, reflected it.

“I asked a wish, my love, what a beautiful sunset!”

And he shook my hand.


His hand lay inert on the sheets,

Very occasionally a fearful finger would pop out.

The hands that I held since I was born

They wouldn’t hold me anymore

But this instant would carry me to death.


I cannot describe the exact moment of his victory,

Because I do not allow it and I do not forgive myself.

I’m not worthy of your holy euphoria

 These words will be enough to heal me.

It was dawn.

I want you to hate me

I want you to hate me

That you see me and want me to die

I want to be the warmest pain you´ve ever felt

The needle that you swallowed and hasn´t fallen yet.


I want so much, so much to disgust you

In all possible ways!

Than a spontaneous thought from my hands

It gets into the center of your face and wrinkles it.


That you detest with your soft heart

To everyone who speaks my name,

For better or for worse, it doesn’t matter.

I wish that ambiguous sound

Be a creepy scream

In the middle of a wet alley;

The tap of the legs of the rats of the drain

That it hurts in the brain, in the belly, in the chest.


I want to be the banshee locked in your head

That weeps every night and denies.


If I achieve any of this it will be enough,

I will be able to die in peace one day.


And, you do not worry, do not suffer,

That I will accompany you piously in the middle of your sleepless nights

I will hold you when hatred spreads like mold in your house.


I will never leave your side,

I promise.

You can count on me.

You will beg the ghost of what I was

That he does not go away, that he does not rest.

You will cry and you will squirm so that it lulls you,

Because you will know that in any other way you will be alone.


When you wake up and the house is dirty

You will not care because you will feel me sunk

On your inner skin like a leech,

The torso worm,

The egg of the fly,

And you will be calm.






When your body breaks down

I will sprout from within like ivy,

And I will be happy.


Calm down my love,

This is what awaits you.

For not loving me more

You will hate me all your life.

I can’t stand warm emotions

And you knew it from day one.


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