October 27, 2010 in Wordsmoker Poetry
The audiologist says my type of hearing loss is called a cookie pattern,
meaning the chart indicating what I can hear looks like someone
took a big U-shaped bite out of the middle.
He says I was born with it. He says the ringing that comes with it
is normal, will be progressive.
But I argue this every time, providing him details and dates
rapid-fire, like a lawyer with entitled clients
(the entitled clients being
my ears who still want to hear everything that’s going on and feel
they deserve it, feel they have acted
always without harmful intent).
“What about,” I say to him, “This one night in Boston,
Jimmie’s Chicken Shack? They were brainfreezingly
So loud I walked out to sit on the floor
in the lobby. A wheelchair-bound man, his bald head
tattooed with flowering ivy, wheeled over
to sit next to me. I remember the way I traced my fingers
along his green roots and magenta blossoms, thinking they made his head
look vulnerable like a girl’s or a baby’s, and I wanted to stick near him
in case he needed something, in case he was in bed
later and there was anything he couldn’t reach, a drink of water.
But my friends came out then, and in the cab home the inside of my skull
was like Brinks Home Security, didn’t quiet for three
days. I felt like someone new to the language, repeating everything
with a question mark, apologizing too much, and finally hiding
under my comforter to wait it out. Seriously
if this is all because of anyone
named Jimmie’s Chicken Shack, well then I must be
a terrible person who deserves to be rendered deaf.”
shakes his head, calls it congenital.
At night when I try to sleep, the caverns of my canals are all crickets
and bullfrogs, and they let me remember damp green
grass and East Coast ponds, but sometimes
it’s electrical, lightning sharp, like I could short out any second,
and I try to steady my breathing, regulate
my temperature, negate
any danger of combustion, pull my palms over my ears, press down hard