My poem “En Ronda” below, was inspired by a photograph of a giant covering, on a building undergoing reconstruction which I saw in September 2007, in Ronda, Andalucia, Southern Spain. The huge photograph on the awning depicted a group of famous local bullfighters. I was struck by the nobility and poise of the men in the picture, and decided to find out more.
The Ronda Tourist Board told me the men were Cayetano (also known as ‘Niño de Palma’, or the boy from Palma), Antonio and Juan Ordonez. Antonio was the most famous of the three men. He was a friend of Ernest Hemingway, and inspiration for Papa’s book The Dangerous Summer.
The dynasty continues into the present day, with Francisco Rivera Ordonez, and his ‘kid’ brother, named after his grandfather, Cayetano Ordonez still risking their lives in the bullrings of Spain, for fame and fortune.
The day is past dawning in Ronda
When, as I approach the Plaza de España,
The flow of a fluttering building arrests me, mid-step.
On a scaffold-high awning, moving in the breeze,
The founding father of a dynasty, Cayetano Ordonez,
Stands on the left, sheepishly separated by his Sunday best suit.
“It wasn’t me, it was their mother” his eyes beseech.
“How can I bear all this responsibility?” he shrugs.
His two sons Antonio and Juan Ordonez stand nearby,
Pinned like peacocks, golden butterflies in their absolute prime.
They are ennobled in a sepia shot.
Juan, Hollywood all-star looks, and killer’s eyes,
Stares the camera down like a gunfighter
Planning his next move, seeking out your weaknesses.
If I were to get in the ring, it would only be to raise a victor’s arm.
Antonio is clad in cream and black silk, a Goyescan suit of lights.
Juan turns to the photographer’s lens, slim hands on slim hips,
3 rosettes each side of gorgeous coat lapels,
Tensely willing the lens do its job and leave him to his business.
The lucky front row hangs over the edge of the stage
Captured forever in the beautiful amber light.
One wears a pith helmet to protect him from the sun,
A blistering pustule in a blinding sky.
Behind, amid marble corridors,
The cool black stones repel the afternoon heat.
And down in the pens, the bulls ram first this wall, then that,
Sharpening horns against the keening basalt and the clamorous roar.
Their tiny eyes have not yet seen the pretty pink ring, in the circle of sand
If you enjoyed this post why not read my article about the Ordóñez bullfighters here
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