Bullfight - Poem by Conor Dowd
Inside the dusty yellow ring the drama is enacted -
a drama of death and dissolution -
a spectacle of life in a theatre of execution.
this searing Spanish sun moves slowly but intently
and daubs our stage a blood-red mix of colours.
Cries of the aficionada, maestros of their voyeurism,
fill the evening air like smoke
as crowds mingle amid hushed murmurs of excitement.
The stage is set, the camera films:
bull against man and man against bull -
barbarism and beauty.
Sleek, lithe matadors pace the circle, awaiting their prey,
eyes fixed and glaring, a grace and poise behind
their savage balletics,
their pantomime of body and soul.
The bull emerges to the crowd's applause
as all eyes scan the matador, the killer of bulls,
all flow and form, glistening in yellow and red
like an open wound.
His combatant stands still,
a frozen Minotaur
and maybe in the dumb brute stare there lurks
an animal intelligence,
a purpose to this massive bulk,
Twenty thousand faces fix on two sets of eyes,
human and animal.
This tension is a closed fist as the mood of menace grows.
Our matador, barely seventeen,
is terrified behind his face of gravity
but in this act his name is made, his fame assured
and gold will pave his path.
Slowly yet deliberately our foes collide
and dazzle with a rush of red and black,
a pounding of hooves and an array of gestures
followed by a sea of applause.
Scene after scene after scene,
like gladiators fighting to the end,
the matador swings and stabs in whirlwind combat
and the bull escapes and then he loses,
then he wins again.
But soon the bull is just a bloodied hulk
of flesh and weary limbs, eyes glazed,
its body caked in streams of blood
where the patterns of its life unfold,
still noble in the face of death.
So Theseus unwinds his thread
and near release the bull succumbs to steel,
the sword like lightning in his neck,
he sinks and sheds himself on stand,
a fallen Minotaur.
The camera stops filming.
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