Childhood of the Half-Deaf
The doctor lets me play with beeps and lights.
He says, say the word, airplane. Say the word hotdog.
Someone plunges cold gloop into my ears.
The half-deaf know this ritual of sitting
for custom molds, hoping the earpiece feels
more like a slipper than a dress shoe.
Putting on my first pair of hearing aids,
I heard the clamor of hammers next door—
like a factory of elves building toys—
but when I peered around the corner,
people wrote at desks with pens and paper.
Everywhere: thunderclaps, shrieks, grating squeals
though nothing I saw accounted for the noise.
To end the pain, I learned to turn them OFF,
and spent the rest of my childhood in near-silence.