i was hired to care

the frail man was declining fast,
i was hired to care
and try to find out if he had
some family somewhere.
he didn’t speak in english;
whatever i would ask,
he’d answer in some foreign tongue,
intensify my task.
“ne signifie rien”, he’d say,
the few times he would speak to me
or “δε σημαίνει τίποτα”
which only sounded greek to me.photo memories-407021_960_720

i asked about relations
who might come in for a visit
while searching for some photographs
whose subjects might elicit
some response that i could use
to find his long-lost kin.
the frail man only watched me
with a small off-putting grin.
there had been speculation
of a sister in Nevada
“das bedeutet nichts”
he’d say, and “no significa nada”

the old man passed away today
can’t figure why i’m crying.
i’ve been at this far too long,
seen so many dying.
i’d just got back from starbucks
where i got us both a venti,
i asked again if he had friends
“non significa niente”.
i thought i was immune to death,
experience was numbing,
but when he died, with his last breath
he whispered “this means nothing”

© 2016 kStan(ly) Lanning
picture by life-of-pix , courtesy pixabay.com
Daily prompt – frail
this verse exists thanks to the lingual assistance
of the woo, jill and
lucarna (who also moved this verse to the top of my to-do-list;
see his amazing Spanish translation of this verse)
and here it is mingling with the Daily prompt – elicit
and the Daily prompt – translate- while i work on something new
if you liked this you might like more wordplay
or more reality

16 thoughts on “i was hired to care

  1. Reblogged this on lucarna and commented:
    El debilucho empeoraba rápido,
    me buscaron para cuidarlo
    y buscar si tenía el aquejado
    un familiar por algún lado.
    En español nada me hablaba;
    qué le preguntase, no importaba,
    todo lo respondía en otro idioma;
    y yo, que la cabeza me carcoma.
    “Ça ne signifie rien”, me decía,
    las pocas veces que balbucía;
    “això no vol dir res” le vino,
    que para mí era como chino.

    Pregunté por su parentela
    que de visita venir pudiera,
    mientras busqué fotografías
    por si alguien se me aparecía
    que alguna respuesta me diera,
    pero nada, ni siquiera una nuera.
    El hombre frágil apenas miraba
    con una mueca de desagrado.
    Por ahí también se especulaba
    con una hermana en el poblado.
    “Das bedeutet nichts”,
    decía, y “dit betekent niets”.

    Hoy falleció el anciano,
    no sé por qué estoy llorando.
    Hace tiempo que en esto ando,
    viéndolos morir a desgano.
    Recién vuelvo del café,
    para los dos pedí capuchino;
    pregunté si tenía amigos,
    “non significa niente”, lo sé.
    Me imaginé inmune a la muerte,
    la experiencia me anestesiaba;
    pero él, con su último suspiro,
    susurró “esto no quiere decir nada”.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is a very nice poem/story. Thanks for sharing it. And especially thanks for giving me the opportunity of adding some knowledge to it. Translation activity can be boring sometimes if you don’t take the chance to take part in collaborative creations like this. Wow, kStan(ly), you really have a big imagination!


    1. i’m so happy you liked it! it’s a great example of all the forces that go into creativity- the idea kicking around in my skull, you suggesting the multi-lingual collaboration, the word of the day being the perfect prompt… you never know how art will take shape. sometimes it’s just about being able to catch the ball and throw it back.

      Liked by 1 person

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