I wrote this poem three or four months back. I’ve performed it a few times and people seem to like it. As with nearly all my work it’s entirely fictional – I make stuff up (that’s why it’s called “creative writing”). It always seemed to be that being able to hear for the first time must be a magical experience. Today I saw a video on YouTube of Sarah Churman where she has her own implants activated after being born deaf and living that way for 29 years. It is one of the most moving pieces of video I have seen on YouTube. Such an ordinary thing: to hear your own voice – yet so incredibly profound. It reminds me that sometimes technology is a remarkably good thing.
She staggered up to me,
Small, growing big,
two feet of life
with years to match.
Gaping and pointing,
with eyes that bounced with her footsteps. A tottering dolly
in mini-sized sneakers.
I strummed on my guitar
and continued to busk, beamed out a benevolent smile and hoped
she’d drop coins in my case.
“La” she bellowed “la”
(a poor attempt, I thought but at least she likes it)
I nodded and bridged and patterned-out chords.
“Laaa aaaaaa aaa aaaaaaaaaaaaa”.
Where was her mother? Appreciation for my
efforts should be accompanied by ritual;
you drop a coin, I duck my head and mime ‘thanks’
when our eyes meet;
then you stand for a few seconds whilst
I play a little more earnestly and you smile
like you own the music.
Then her mother came and scooped her up:
a red-coated parcel.
Gently, on her daughter’s cheeks
she turns the little face towards her and starts to
mouth her words theatrically
“music, honey, this sound is called music”.
Then, to me “I’m sorry, it’s all new”;
she points to the metalwork behind her daughter’s
(I fret E minor and stroke down on the strings);
“Laaaa laaa laaa”;
“switched on today…..you’re her first guitar. I think she likes it”.