What My Deaf Husband Hears
Rochelle Jewel Shapiro

What My Deaf Husband Hears

It’s not silence. It’s the sharp whistle
of a fax machine punctuated by crackling
tinfoil or, softer,
like shuffling in fallen leaves.
Sometimes it’s as rhythmic
as the soughing of the sea, then broken
by the sizzle of static.

He grimaces when he tries to decipher
rapid speech, as if he has just arrived
on this shore like his parents before him.
When he drives, he cocks his head toward me
to catch my drift. In restaurants,
sitting across from me, he leans in so far
I kiss his forehead.

From the night table,
his hearing aids chirp to me.
When I speak into his bare chest,
he gets each word.

Rochelle Jewel Shapiro

is the author of Miriam the Medium (Simon & Schuster, 2004) and the Indie Finalist Kaylee's Ghost (2012). She has published essays in The New York Times, Newsweek, and many anthologies, and her poetry and short stories have appeared in such publications as Moment, Permafrost, Cimarron Review, The Iowa Review, and Trajectory. She teaches writing at UCLA Extension.