Deaf Sentences

By | 15 May 2023

The audiogram
maps my soundscape,
plots landslides
in high frequencies.

The audiologist tells me
I hear like the elder I hope to be
in twenty years, or more;
says my cochlear hair cells
are in disorder— dead
or distorted, their thistle tufts
too limp to excite membranes
fire-up neurons,
tune in my brain.

I am snared by fricatives
and sibilants, plosives and nasals.
I hear ‘tedious break’
for ‘Finnegans Wake’;
detect the plash of ‘water polo’
but not the clarion of ‘Apollo’;
think it’s ‘in the Bible’
when it’s ‘about survival’.

Is it in my DNA?
For centuries my tribe
lived in remote valleys,
chose wives and husbands
as they bred cattle—
from familiar stock.

Now, new hearing aids
snug behind my ears
serenade me, rustle,
make me feel
gift-wrapped in sound.

I think of Ludwig
in Heiligenstadt.
At thirty-two,
surd to distant flute
and shepherd’s song,
he melodied
his mute landscape
in ‘The Pastoral’.

Ludwig in Heiligenstadt – Beethoven had a country house in Heiligenstadt, outside Vienna. In the summer of 1802, he convalesced there to
recover from his worsening deafness and wrote a letter to his brother, expressing his despair. He also started work on the Pastoral Symphony.
The letter was never sent and was discovered in his papers after his death.

This entry was posted in 109: NO THEME 12 and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Related work:

Comments are closed.