Tuesday, June 20, 2017

"Hearing Loss" by Terri Lynn Cummings

Hearing Loss
Terri Lynn Cummings

Leaving the world
to youth’s beat and screech

her hearing shuffles 
to the land of the old

She swims from sound 
to silence and back

through the breath 
of invisible waves

sinks in the ceaseless ringing 
from rock bands’ cannon

Others’ lips open and close
down one-way lanes

while she shrugs and surrenders 
the map she cannot follow

Light dims in the space 
of unopened language

disappears into dust 
as unseen as she

Poet’s Notes:  I wear hearing aids. There. I admit it. Quite frankly, I choose to wear them, because I do not want to be left out of family gatherings. All too often, people quit speaking to those who cannot hear well. I do not want to be left in the cold! Hence, the inspiration for this poem.

Editor’s Note:  This poem is not only poignant and beautiful but could serve as a PSA about hearing loss prevention and treatment.  It is indeed the “rock bands’ cannon” as well as the failure to wear proper hearing protection when required that leads to permanent and irreversible hearing loss.

Hearing loss is NOT a normal or inevitable part of aging.  I am living proof that hearing protection works as advertised.  When I was in the Air Force and exposed to all kinds of toxic levels of noise, I always, always wore my issued hearing protection.  Even off duty, I did (and still do!) wear protection when performing noisy chores such as mowing the lawn.  Well into my fifties, I can still hear cars approaching from the left before I see them in my rearview and I can still hear heart murmurs through my stethoscope that younger doctors cannot appreciate.

The cavalier attitude that today’s youth has towards its precious sense of sound frankly appalls me.  Not a shift goes by at the Kansas City Military Entrance Processing Station where I work part-time doing physicals on military applicants that I do not see several teenagers with significant hearing loss--sometimes so bad that I must permanently disqualify them from military service.

So, I hope that the take home message of this lovely poem is LOUD AND CLEAR:  USE HEARING PROTECTION WHEN REQUIRED.  ‘Cause once it’s gone, it’s gone.... 

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