Gabriel Fried
                                                                             Audio Provided by From the Fishouse

Hearing Child from a Deaf Household


I hear the silence they do.
Spherical and firm as buttons.
As if the mind, anesthetized, feels
just the tug of sound’s stitching.
Splatter of dropped pot.
Dart of barking dog.

Sound is separate, surprising
as hail or remedy. At home,
I was a seismograph, an instructor
of muscle memory. There
I showed to close drawers softly.
But school was a hive that stings and will
not be shook off. There was the shock
of rubber on linoleum. Concussions
of blocks. Nothing I could think of—
no game I designed or found the quiet to
explain—made them stop.

Now, on Michigan back roads,
a flocculent snow whispers up
the windshield. The roads hold
secrets between them, snapped
back like branches or cold air slit
against an ear. Invisible as clotheslines
against this sky. Pounding as
a heart the whole world hears.