Fiction — March 20, 2012 13:44 — 0 Comments

A Lost Art – Lindsay Brand

Fifty years ago, I was a young man. Like most young men, I was full of vigor and passion. I fancied myself a poet. Conchita went with me to the bullfight once. That was the night I whispered a few lines of Pablo Neruda to her and she kissed me on the mouth. I will always remember how the taste of her lips mingled with the reverberating cries of “¡ole!”

My son wants to see the rodeo Americans are promoting in Guadalajara, so we go. An older lady clutching a small billfold leans over to her friend behind me and whispers, “This is very strange.” I can barely hear them over the huge sound system blasting through the structure. They are playing the music of Alan Jackson; that’s what my son tells me. He listens to American country music.

While the cowboys throw ropes around wriggling livestock to musical accompaniment, I think about the three ritualistic stages of a real bullfight. During this struggle, the people watching are silent. We respect the beauty of the bull.  When he falls, we feel it too. The bull will die during the tercio de muerte.  In  English, it  means the “third of death.”

My son cheers loudly now.  His eyes are bright and he sports shiny cowboy boots.  I try to smile and clasp my cool fingers together. The woman sitting behind me leans over to her friend again, “No more American rodeos.  Bullfights are much nicer. Quieter. The bull is an elegant animal. And lastly,” she says, “We are Spanish.”

If Conchita were here, I wouldn’t be obliged to attend this atrocity. We would be at our home eating her empanadas and discussing the neighbors’ business.  Sometimes I don’t understand my son. He forgets his country’s traditions more everyday. If Conchita and I had attended the rodeo with our son, we would have exchanged knowing glances and secret eye rolls throughout the festivities. I swallow slowly – a painful lump forms in my throat.

Now, I don’t usually quote writers anymore. Or even the poets. I haven’t the patience for their delusions of creative grandeur. But, Hemingway once wrote, “Bullfighting is the only art in which the artist is in danger of death and in which the degree of brilliance in the performance is left to the fighter’s honor.” I wish my son read more Hemingway.

“Ladies and Gentleman, the most dangerous eight seconds in sports!” booms the announcer. “This is the best part,” my son whispers. My gaze drifts down the arena where a man in a ten gallon hat clings to a bucking bull. After a few prolonged seconds click by, the bull throws him to the ground while a pair of buffoons distracts the enraged bull from his tormentor.

“It is very American,” my son says. “I like it.” He would. It is my own personal tercio de muerte.


Lindsay Brand lives in St. Louis, Missouri where she is a student in the MFA Writing program at Lindenwood University. In her spare time, she enjoys reading ,eating mint chocolate chip ice cream, and secretly being an optimist. This is her first published piece of fiction.

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The answer isn't poetry, but rather language

- Richard Kenney