This is a poem I wrote following Margo Roby’s Tuesday Tryout prompt. The old lady in question is a neighbour. She is very old, has difficulty walking, can barely see, and doesn’t speak a word of anything but Spanish. She’s also incredibly cheery, and Manolito hardly ever comes to see her.

p.s. From now on, I’m not going to cite the references to public domain artwork since all the info is in the picture—just click on it.


Knotty, brown, old Spanish lady hands,
Have white bone beneath the skin.
Curled around the knuckle-smooth knob,
A bony bird grip clenched,
Stick jabs the recalcitrant roadway.
Behind the cataracted eyes,
Narrow white streets curve, and harsh sun beats,
While children dart from light to shade.
Is Manolito visiting today?
Market, she calls. I need potatoes.
And ham.
Manolito likes Serrano best.
Her smile, beatific, gap-toothed.
Manolito, heavy-bellied,
Beer and café friends forgotten,
Runs, a spoilt child,
Round the curved white street of an Andalusian dream,
Lost in the harsh sun, and the mists of time.

Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

12 thoughts on “Manolito”

  1. You give is such a vivid word portrait, you don’t need the art, but the art you chose works perfectly. I love all the hard words, ‘cataracted’ ‘bone’ ‘knuckle’ ‘recalcitrant’. They are part of what gives us not just what she looks like but what she is like.

    1. That’s exactly how she is—fragile and doddery on the outside, but tough as old leather. Always smiling even when she’s telling you how she fell down the stairs. And her no good son…

  2. “the curved white street of an Andalusian dream”
    Just love that. The portrait full of life, then those superbly poignant final lines.

  3. Surprise, surprise I prefer yours! I think you flesh her out, I prefer the picture you used too and the way you create a world around her. This is perfect and so much of what I was saying in mine! I’m glad others see that in older people, it gives hope for all generations.

    1. I’m pleased you like ths poem. It is similar to yours, same type of old lady, I imagine. I’ve picked out bits and bats of what Enriqueta has related to me as I don’t speak Spanish and she doesn’t speak French. There’s a sort of osmosis goes on in our conversations. I’ve also met Manolito. Nuff said.

      1. Forgive me if you have already told me this or it’s on your site but have you published a book of your poetry because if you have I should like to get myself a copy. I know you’ve written a lot so I thought i’d just ask and check. I figured you did speak Spanish (mine is horrific and I get all my languages muddled up and intersperse Italian frequently)

      2. I don’t speak a word of Spanish, but I do muddle along in Italian. A family connection and a falling in love with Italy at an impressionable age made me believe I could speak it. So I taught myself. You know Italian too? What a(nother) coincidence!
        I haven’t published any poetry. I’d never have the nerve. And doing it yourself is such hard work. My dad had poetry published and my mother’s father wrote poetry but never tried to get anything published. You didn’t if you were an Irish coal miner living on a council housing estate.

      3. Wow I had no idea your dad had poetry published? You come from a family of it! Oh my friend – why not? Don’t be daft about having the nerve, don’t you see the modern poets that are published? You walk over them! You seriously should consider it. I know maybe it won’t be profitable but I’d so love it if you did. Good grief if I can get published (I self-published and I also just got published a couple of years back plus I have another one coming out with Finishing Line Press) then you can because you’re better than me (okay it’s not a competition and I’m not competitive either, you know that, neither of us are, but I’m saying this so you know it’s not daft) think about it? I would be so happy to help you if ever you wanted to.
        I used to speak Italian quite well as a kid so it was very limited. I went to Catolica to see some family every summer so I learned through immersion but I didn’t keep it up so now it’s rudamentary at best. Beautiful language though and I love Italy so much I think if I could live anywhere it would be Italy.

      4. That’s how I learnt my childish Italian. A family my mother got to know in Rome. They would have got me (and husband who was just boyfriend then) into jobs with the Banco di Roma but I thought that was scandalous at the time. Didn’t realise that that’s how things happen in Italy.

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