Wednesday 7 October 2020

I Watch...

I have blogged about my friend Emily Owen before. She is a bright, gifted young woman, a writer and speaker who is profoundly deaf. She has a great blog. Please spare a thought for people like Emily, who usually lipread -  that is impossible right now when people are wearing masks. She wrote this poem about the issues faced by those with hearing impairment.

I watch waves crash on the beach.
I see a man strain to hear his wife.
The waves must be loud.
I know
I don’t know.

I watch a musician play.
I remember music.
Or has memory blurred
in the presence of silence?
I know
I don’t know.

I watch a child cover his ears.
Anxious now, he turns to me.
I read his lips:
“What’s that noise?”
I know
I don’t know.

I watch lips move.
The third time I’ve asked her to repeat.
It feels like the millionth.
I panic.
“Yes,” I say.
Is that the right answer?
I know
I don’t know.

I watch the group.
I’m the only one not laughing.
I look at the floor,
begging it to swallow me.
Would I have laughed with them
if I’d heard the joke?
I know
I don’t know.

I watch her little lips.
“Why didn’t that noise make you jump?”
I swallow hard.
“My ears don’t work, sweetie pie.”
Her nose wrinkles as she digests new information.
What can I say?
I know
I don’t know.

I watch my life
inside silence
Words spoken clearly
or written down.
My efforts to understand
met by others
welcoming me.
What is life without
I know
I don’t know.


  1. I am also hard of hearing. I find it very very difficult to understand people when they have a mask on.
    Lesley P.

  2. That's a very powerful poem! And Yes, what a hard time for those with a hearing impediment.

  3. Thank you for raising my awareness about this, Angela.


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