Hearing Loss Poem

Hearing Loss Poem By Christian Wiman

Only the most obvious questions
were asked her, how she felt
or if she’d slept, and even these words,
before they reached her, wavered free of meanings
as if a wind were in them. Friends and family
came close and called to her
as they would call down a well, peering
into some darkness their own altered voices
might rise out of. In time,
even the echoes faded, until
any moment’s simple music—
a bird singing, her grandchildren laughing—
faltered before her, trembling
somewhere in the very air she breathed.
She felt sounds she was hardly conscious of
before: the deep-freezer’s door hummed
when touched, and the dry heartbeat
of an old clock ticked lightly into her fingers.
Her son, old himself, would lean over her
trying to make her understand an hour
was all he could stay, it was Sunday
or Monday, or a particular silence
was the silence of rain,
and on the long drive out here
the wet road whispered him home.
Waking alone,
dawns so quiet she hears
leaves breathing light, or drifting
alone through days unchanging as smooth water,
she can almost believe the life she remembers
is life. Lovers on the television screen
know only the words she gives them, birds
in the trees sing her memories
of their song. She answers the softest knocks
at her door, surprised each time
that no one is there, she listens intently
to mirrors, stands at a window
bringing the wind inside. Until,
in the muted light of late afternoon
she lies resting, resisting
sleep like a small child
who has stayed up too long, who half dreams
the arms that hold her, the room full of voices
and laughter, but cannot bring herself wholly
into the world where they are.

Hearing Loss Poem

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