María Elena Cruz Varela







Love Poem in Difficult Times


It’s difficult to write I love you madly.

To the very marrow of my bones. What will become

of my hands if they are robbed of the magic sounds

of your body? Difficult. Very difficult a love poem

in these times. It happens that you are. Fiercely present

before me. It happens that I am before you.

Twisted. Stalking. And it happens that we are.

The law of gravity does not forgive us.

Difficult to say I love you in these times.

I love you urgently.

I want to make a space. Free of doubts and traps.

To say I love you. Simply. Just so.

And that your love saves me from the howl of night

when a crazy she-wolf fever makes me rave.

I don’t want the pain of absent tenderness.

But love. How difficult it is to write I love you. Just so.

Amid so much gray. Among so many backs hunched over.

How can I aspire to clarity.

Resume this wasted voice.

This old habit of saying I love you.

Simply. Just so. As in the old days. I mean.

If everything is so difficult. If everything hurts so.


If one man. And the next. And then another. And another.

Destroy the spaces where love hides.

If it weren’t difficult. Difficult and large.

If it weren’t possible to forget this rage.

My clock. Its ticking. The route to the gallows.

My absurd sentence with this false rope.

If it weren’t difficult. Difficult and large.

I would write this poem with its silly cadence.

If it were that simple to write I love you.



Trans. by Pablo Medina












María Elena Cruz Varela is a Cuban journalist, novelist, and poet. She was one of the leaders of Criterio Alternativo, a dissident group in the 1990s that called for democratic reforms inside Cuba. As a result of her activism, she was arrested and, after a summary trial, condemned to two years’ imprisonment. She now lives in Madrid, Spain.






Pablo Medina is a Cuban-born novelist, poet, essayist, and translator. He has received numerous awards for his work, most recently a fellowship in poetry from the Guggenheim Foundation. He is professor of fiction, poetry, and translation at Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts.


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