I knew the silence
before the birdsong—
Each note not a note,
but plaintive echoes,
making painful calls
before a leeward wing
danced a thrush
in the brambles.
I spent a considerable part of an afternoon watching videos of blind infants wearing their first pair of glasses. Seeing the world clearly for the first time brought on such joyful smiles.
It reminded me of the time when I was a child that my parents discovered I was partly deaf and fitted me with hearing aids. Unlike, the blind infants being fitted with glasses, my first true hearing experience was not a joyful one. The noise was loud, confusing, scary and didn’t make sense. It wasn’t words, just a shrill noise, that broke my joyful silence. It took considerable speech therapy before I became comfortable with the aids and the volume of the world. I deliberately lost or broke many an aid.
This poem describes that feeling of confusion, and adjusting to a new way of knowing sound, speech and language. Yes, piecing together birdsong with a thrush struggling and crying out in the brambles was a formative poetic experience that did happen.
Piecing It All Together is a distillation of that experience. I still live in awkward accommodation with the hearing world. I give sound its due, but refuse it victory. I’m fine with that as long as I have the close captioning underneath the noise.