A few days ago I learned that an old friend had passed away after some years of deteriorating health. We had never met face to face, and in recent years we didn’t talk as much as we once did, but that didn’t make our friendship any less real. We shared a birthday, a sense of humor, and political views. He was a fan of my writing as I was of his.
I was away for the weekend, but the sad news stayed with me, rambling in and out of my thoughts. I came home to a snow storm that dropped a lot of snow for this old woman to shovel; shoveling is mindless work that lends itself to thinking of other things and Tom came to mind again. During the course of our long friendship, he lost his hearing and was totally deaf. We talked about what that meant sometimes and it inspired a poem that was included in my first book, POEMS FROM THE EDGE OF SPRING. The review he wrote on Amazon was glowing, even though he titled it “I Hate Poetry” and he told me privately that he recognized the poem “A World Without Sound” had come from some of our discussions. It meant the world to me that he thought it was perfect and was touched by it.
I decided I would share it again now, in memorandum for my dear friend, Tom Browning.
May he rest in peace and hear all of his favorite music again forever after.
A World Without Sound So much has changed since he lost the world of sound. Mostly he misses the music that now he only hears in his head, the laughter of children, and the sound of his wife's voice when she loves him in the dark. There are things he misses not at all-- the screeching of brakes and chalk on a blackboard, just to name a few. Then there are the people who think he's stupid because he can't understand them, and mostly he's glad that he can't hear their slowly enunciated shouting. But there are some things that haven't changed at all-- dandelion fluff drifting over a meadow, shiny bubbles floating rainbows in the sunshine, jellyfish dancing in the tank at the aquarium, snow falling on a winter morning, hourglass sand marking time, holy smoke from church candles-- All this small silent motion, so often gone unnoticed in the cacophony, remind him he is still who he always was.
Elise Skidmore ©2021
“A World Without Sound” from POEMS FROM THE EDGE OF SPRING, Elise Skidmore ©2011
A beautiful poem. I find as the years go by I am turning up the volume on the radio too.
Thank you. I guess some hearing loss happens to all of us as we age. Sadly my friend wasn’t that old when he lost his hearing completely. I can only imagine how difficult that would be.