When I heard poet Russ Sargent read this week’s poem aloud last fall, I felt the exquisite chills of what Spanish-speakers call duende – a heightened sense of feeling or passion, mortality and life, that’s often associated with flamenco.

Sargent’s “Granada” brings us down the less-travelled streets of a beautiful Spanish city, then gently guides us in how to meet the losses we will encounter there. Its breathtaking final image reminds us of how even the humblest art can raise and release us.

Russ Sargent, poet and owner of Yes Books in Portland, has travelled often to Spain. This poem was written while he was a member of Group 18, a poetry group formed around Linda Gregg and Jack Gilbert in Northampton, Massachusetts.



By Russ Sargent


When you walk down

from the Alhambra, take

small steps past the cuevas

and gypsies selling roses. Feel

lucky when you find the grave

circled with stones and women

dressed in black who beat

olive trees with sticks slowly

filling their nets. You will

cross where a river was.

Behind a burro carrying dirt.

Feel the pain in your feet as

you descend through the century

plants and find yourself

under the bridge where a man

roasts potatoes in a pile

of burning rags. Do not notice

how both the river and his legs

are gone. Just listen to the song.

Listen to the man almost to

his waist in dry ground, singing.


Megan Grumbling is a poet and writer who lives in Portland. Deep Water: Maine Poems is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. “Granada” copyright © 2019 by Russ Sargent, reprinted from “The Café Review,” published in fall 2019. It appears by permission of the author.

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