Joaquín Gutiérrez

Joaquín Gutiérrez is the author of Cocorí, Puerto Limón, Manglar, and Murámonos, Federico, which earned him the Premio Nacional Aquileo J. Echevvería in 1973.  He writes short stories, novels, poems, and journalistic articles.  His short story in Costa Rica: A Traveler’s Literary Companion, “A Leaf of Air,” is the longest in the collection, though the prose and storyline are so strong that the reader craves more.

The story follows the speaker who, as a child, meets Theresa, a young girl with whom whom he falls in love, and who gives him a big, glossy leaf:

“This is an hoja de aire, a leaf of air,” she said as she gave it to me.  “Hang it by a thread where there is a wind and watch the tiny breezes being born.”

Though the speaker lives many years away from his homeland, he often thinks of Theresa and the leaf of air she gave to him.  “And don’t come telling me that my leaf of air is only a symbol and that symbols don’t correspond to any physical reality,” Gutiérrez writes in the speaker’s voice, later in life.  But the reader must delve into the speaker’s interactions with Theresa throughout the story to determine what this symbolism means.

Photo Credit: Jon Sullivan / Public Domain
Source: Ras, Barbara, ed. Costa Rica: A Traveler’s Literary Companion. San Francisco: Whereabouts, 1994.

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