For Sale in Costa Rica

                            2 June 2009

In Cartago, a famous church displays mementos

Of many miracles performed by La Negrita,

A small, black stone,

In the image of the blessed Virgin.

Found by a simple peasant girl,

Many years before.

We pass a little man, on a corner near the church,

Dark skinned, unnoticed in the noon-day sun,

Grasping two large crosses,

For sale, depicting the Crucified One,

To the careless passing cars.

Here in Costa Rica,

Land of the Pura Vida,

Globalized corporate markets explode,

Within barbed wired, free-trade zones,

Producing profits for the foreign rich.

Here in Costa Rica,

A melting pot of immigrants–

Strangers threaten Pura Vida,

Fear of those who lack the image in their hearts

Of the good life, our Costa Rican heritage,

For what is pure resists defilement,

By the unwashed, the unpure,

the unwanted basura of existence.

People cling to their Pura Vida, and to

The Crucified One, 2000 years past due,

And protect the blessed Virgin, behind glass cases,

On the streets of every pueblo.

The Virgin, safe behind the bars, like the homes,

Of the bourgeoisie whose image she projects,

So passive in her silent inwardness,

Promise of a new birth–

Dreaming of resurrection.

And people wonder about the Pura Vida,

That evaporates like the morning mist

on Volcan Poas,

Every time they try to grasp it–

While working ever-faster, to the pounding pace

Of the free trade factories,

And the tourist business, dinero to  be made,

McSuper Mac on every corner,

And in every heart an ache for something lost,

Or not yet found.

Like Negrita, the blessed black stone Virgin,

Granting the miracle of Pura Vida–

The little man, carrying two large crosses,

Depicting the Crucified One in the noon-day sun,

To the careless passing cars,

Signals that the time is neither ripe–

Nor lost,

And that the resurrection cannot happen,

Until the crucifixion has been finished.


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