Madrid

Stone steps lead to a cava,
smoky, smelling of sweat and wine
and grilled meat. An old man, sinew
and bones, sits curled over his guitar,
close as a lover. The song speaks
of women, wasted chances, war.
The music ends, resumes.
A woman rises — gray-haired,
thick waist, heavy breasts.
She dances alone, feet insistent,
drumming, sure. “Jale! Jale!”
comes the shout. She raises her arms
above her head, her fingers snapping
castanets, her body sinuous, eyes
that beckon each man there.
She is Carmen, Aphrodite, as her hair
comes loose and falls across her shoulders.
“Asi se baila!” they call. “Asi se baila!”
At the end, triumphant, she sweeps
a bow to whistles and applause. You signal
the bartender to bring her a drink, knowing
that’s as close as you will come to having her.

 – Sarah Russell
Photo source
inspired by Bjorn’s challenge of “scent” on d’Verse

35 thoughts on “Madrid

    1. I agree Bjorn. I stumbled upon this tiny bar and saw this scene in Madrid about 40 years ago. The woman was in a faded house dress and “sensible” shoes, and she was sensational! I’ve never forgotten it.

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  1. Your flamenco puts me mind of the paso double’ or the Spanish Two Step. A very passionate dance. My husband and I do ballroom dance. Several years st there was a demo of this dance….a 12 year old boy and his grandmother. Incredible. I finally learned the basics and to let go. It is one of the few dances that makes this 66 year old shaped like a beachball, feel beautiful. The descriptions and the ending was right on the money.

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    1. I think that I saw a You Tube of that couple’s Paso double. It was wonderful. And yes, that kind of dance does bring out what the Spanish call Duende if you do it right. Thanks for your comments, Toni.

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  2. You’ve captured the atmosphere of flamenco in your poem, Sarah. I particularly enjoyed:
    ‘…An old man, sinew
    and bones, sits curled over his guitar,
    close as a lover’
    and
    ‘…She raises her arms
    above her head, her fingers snapping
    castanets, her body sinuous, eyes
    that beckon each man there’.

    Like

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