The widest range of historical and cinema images for editorial and creative use
Advanced search >>



The best dancers are not

the slender young women

with lipstick and scarlet ruffles,

nor the young men who fancy themselves

latent toreadors stamping faster and harder

than rain on a cave roof.


The best dancers are

the leather-faced old women,

black-shawled, with castanets and fans,

strong as bulls, barrel-chested,

big-breasted, with heavy legs, fleshy

arms, and kohl-penciled eyes

dark as dying planets.


Their grandchildren have picked our pockets

on the buses near the Alhambra,

and now we pay to see them dance

in the caves of Granada. They lift their skirts

behind them to show clicking heels,

calves marbled with ropey veins.


The tourists are herded after the show

into a night of cobbled streets

and white-washed hotels, leaving the gypsies

with hands burning from synchronized clapping,

their ancient guitars silent. They drive home

to paint-peeled caravans in the field

beyond the mountain. Before sleep,


the grandmother sifts her hennaed hair

from tortoise-shell combs, spreads it out

on the pillowed moon. But first,

she counts the coins she earned tonight.

Her feet have turned to rock.

She never dreams.



© Donna Pucciani, first published in Pinyon Poetry, also in Edges

Picture 10906458, photograph by Lucas Vallecillos, circa 1990s, image copyright Mary Evans / Iberfoto



Donna Pucciani, a Chicago-based writer, has published poetry on four continents in journals including Poetry Salzburg, Istanbul Literary Review, Shi Chao Poetry, Journal of Italian Translation, Acumen and The Pedestal.  Her work has been translated into Italian, Chinese, Japanese and German. In addition to six Pushcart nominations, she has won awards from the Illinois Arts Council and The National Federation of State Poetry Societies, among others. Her seventh and most recent collection of poems is Edges (Purple Flag Press, Chicago, 2016).