Gloria J. Bennett
I hear the roar of the crowd in Pamplona as soon as the
television comes on. My host calls to me from the living
room to make certain I don’t miss the running of the bulls
this morning, so I quickly step into my red and black skirt,
the long flowing one that he says makes me look like a
native, and run down the hall to join him. I make a real
effort to disguise my repulsion and fear, but jump at the
first opportunity to make my exit—as soon as a dark-haired
woman in a cigarette commercial begins her spiel in a
language I don’t fully comprehend. There’s no time for
my usual breakfast of buttered toast and goat’s milk, so I
grab a manzana off the table on my way out the door. It’s
a half-mile walk to catch my ride to the university. My
heart is still racing as I pass familiar landmarks, and I recall
how I judged the neighbors when I first arrived here by the
clothes I saw hanging out the windows to dry. But that was
back when my skin was not so tan, before the sun had
lightened my hair, turning it almost auburn. Before my
hostess did the wash and I stepped off the bus to see my own
undergarments suspended overhead, for the whole world to
see. This morning, there is nothing special about my own
clothes, fluttering in the breeze among pots of red and pink
geraniums. I am breathless as I greet my professor, but take my
place among my classmates and prepare for my next lesson.
Strong and Sudden
Unfamiliar territory unravels
before our sleepy eyes,
lit dimly by a radiant quarter moon.
Quaint villages adorn the countryside,
distant and remote,
and hills soon flatten into fields.
“Olives or grapes?” I ask.
It is impossible to distinguish
as our bus speeds into the darkness
and we meander into the unknown.
But around the next bend,
we encounter a distinctive aroma,
so strong and sudden
it permeates the dry, evening air.
The scent is erotic,
like the taste of your kisses.
“Guavas?” you ask.
“No, not in Spain,” I say,
though I don’t really know for certain.
Then the scent has faded—
in the amount of time
it takes me to kiss your lips.
So we never learn what it is.
But later that evening, we are
again connected, creating a loveliness
as strong and sudden
as the momentary scent of mandarinas
filling up the night.
©2007 by Gloria J. Bennett
Gloria J. Bennett
has had work appear in travel magazines and literary journals. One of her poems was
recently nominated for the Pushcart Prize. In addition to writing, she also
teaches English classes at North Georgia College and State University in