Ghosts of Madrid
by Nina Romano
There’s a place called Madrid
accent on the first syllable,
situated not in Spain,
but in New Mexico
between Santa Fe and Albuquerque—
minutes from both—
where history and destiny awaited
rancheros, conquistadores, fortune seekers
of gold, copper and fame
on the Turquoise Trail,
running through Lone Butte,
Cerrillos and Golden.
What was once the ocean’s floor
stretched far and wide, now
undulates in the precision
of low mountain desert
where pinion, juniper, yucca,
cane cholla blooms,
and prickly pear flowers yellow;
where roadrunners, jackrabbits, coyotes
scamper wildly among petroglyphs
on rocks in high desert.
Roads, mountains, hills
and silver mines, land
with stunning views
of the Sangre de Cristos Mountains,
land running red with iron and men’s blood—
settlers in the environs of Madrid;
here is where they wanted to be:
new residents from other places,
poets, writers, lovers,
in deepest love with nature,
but in the middle years
of the 20th century
Madrid was a ghost town
replete with resident specters
whose aftershave perfumes the air,
whose steps are heard running on catwalks,
beneath loggias, on staircases of old saloons.
And though they leave no shadow,
curtains move when they pass by.
Madrid, a reborn town,
flourishes once more,
a little municipality
not far from the
Santuario de Chimayó
with it’s adobe walls, sacred dirt,
and heirloom chile woven into wreaths
for both natives and touistas
I know because once I traveled there—
I know because I lived and breathed
among the versicolored flowers
of the staghorn cholla.
I know because now I haunt this habitat.
Bio: Nina Romano earned an MA from Adelphi University and an MFA in Creative Writing from Florida International University. She lived in Rome, Italy, for twenty years where many of her poems and stories are set. Romano is fluent in Italian and Spanish. She has interned for Marie Howe, Denise Duhamel, and C. K. Williams at the Palm Beach Poetry Festival, and taught literature as an adjunct professor at St. Thomas University. Recently, Romano has presented writing workshops at the Sanibel Island Writers Conference and Florida Gulf Coast University.
Her short fiction, memoir, reviews and poetry appear in The Rome Daily American, The Chrysalis Reader, Whiskey Island, Gulf Stream Magazine, Grain, Voices in Italian Americana, Vox, Chiron Review, The Salt Lake City Weekly, Rough Writer’s Ink, Mangrove Review, Irrepressible Appetites, Roads Literary Magazine, Night Train, A Little Poetry, ExPatLit, GULFSTREAM!NG, Grey Sparrow Journal, The Northville Review, The Bosphorous Art Project Quarterly, Strong Verse, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Writers Ink, Lung Poetry Journal, The Poetry of Marriage Anthology, Tinfoildresses, Wilderness, Perceptions, Poetry Salzburg Review, and Crannóg Magazine.
Excerpts from her novel-in-progress, The Secret Language of Women, appear in Dimsum: Asia's Literary Journal, Southern Women’s Review and Driftwood.
Romano is the author of two poetry collections: Cooking Lessons by Rock Press, which was submitted for a Pulitzer Prize, and Coffeehouse Meditations, from Kitsune Books.