Patricia Fargnoli: “Near Deafness”


Begin with a world smothered

as if with snow.

Consider the sounds you cannot hear

without your hearing aids–

the fan above the stove, soft engine

of your cat where he curls

asleep on the wicker chair.

Then, go outside in the sun

of the day just turned

to spring and notice what is missing:

the church bell that bongs the hours,

the sweet music of birds you see

crisscrossing sky in all their busyness,

even the dancing fiddlesticks of the brook.

You can almost hear the absence.

What is lost? How in music

all the notes play off each other,

how the violins at a concert

didn’t used to sound like screeching.

You could sit with friends

and hear more than a few words

or go to a poetry reading

or a class or a lecture or a movie–

all those things closed to you now.

But sometimes you like the quiet–

muffling blanket over life’s uproar.

Not complete silence but walls

around your mind, the way ice thickens

on a pond with no wind.

It’s like a stopped car in no traffic,

or the feathers of a sleeping bird,

clouds outside a closed window,

like space and sky.

It’s a cow lying down in August heat

or the empty raft in the middle of a lake,

like pine boughs heavy with rain,

an empty bowl,

shadow, shadow, shadow.

Patricia Fargnoli’s fifth book of poetry, Hallowed: New & Selected Poems, was published by Tupelo Press in 2017. Her previous books have won awards: The May Swenson Book Award, Sheila Motton Poetry Book Award, the New Hampshire Literary Poetry Book Award, and others. She’s been a resident at the Macdowell Colony. Fargnoli’s poems have appeared widely in journals such as Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, Alaska Quarterly etc.

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