Will Cox sent this to me. Love it. I always wondered how hearing people can sleep. It just bugs me to think of going to bed with my hearing turned on. Sure, I’ve taken a nap with my hearing aids on — but mostly because I was conked. But to go to bed and wait to fall asleep seems different.
I try to tune out the boom! boom! boom!
from the shooting range two miles from my house,
and think of the people who live next door
to the targets, or in the din of London and Berlin
where nightingales now sing fourteen decibels louder
to be heard by mates, quintupling the pressure
in their lungs. I’ve never heard a nightingale,
but I know noise came from nausea, and bulls-
eye names the goal for some blurry desire.
Bullseye is a band in Norway playing gung-ho rock and roll,
like the kid down the street whose car speakers rumble
through his closed windows and mine,
drums pummeling our insides. If I told him I once hiked
among redwoods, heard ghostly calls in the stillness,
branches somewhere in the canopy sky
moaning as they swayed, would he say Cool
or Whatever, the way my sons have mumbled it,
intending that I shouldn’t—or maybe should—hear,
all talk target practice, ricochet and sashay, headache
and heartache, duck and cover. In a fable, Lion realizes
too late his vulnerability, the tunnel of his ear,
tiny Mosquito zooming in. Out beyond Pluto, Voyager’s
golden disc offers mud pots, thunder, footsteps,
a Brandenburg Concerto and Johnny B. Goode.
Was the very first song a hum or a shout, laughter
or weeping? When my friend, at forty, praised
her cochlear implants, she complained about work,
the ringing office phones—How do people concentrate?
I consider her vacations—wind surfing, rock climbing,
marathons—how different now that she hears
each splash and scrape, the huh of heavy exhalation.
I wish I could adorn my ears the way warriors in India did,
with metallic green beetle wings, an iridescent
clacking and tinkling at the Feast of Courage. Imagine
if we could hear bread rising, dew forming, the budding
of raspberries, the tear of a cocoon, a minnow’s pulse,
our own cells growing, dying. When my husband
kisses my ear, I love the swoosh, the quiver, his breath
sand driven by wind, my whispered name.
“Tuning” by Christine Rhein from Wild Flight. © Texas Tech University Press, 2008.