Two Worlds

Though it is not my first language

signing is music to my eyes

hands do more than

wave hello or goodbye

there is an untapped language

waiting to mobilize the fingers

My father knows this

but did he miss hearing

the whimpers

that came from my crib,

the tiny mumbling voice

of his princess

speaking aloud

to imaginary friends?

he’s hard of hearing

but he isn’t deaf

he can read lips

but he can’t sign

unwillingly torn between

two separate worlds

two separate cultures

Did he ever wish that he belonged

to one or the other?

what would my life have been like

if those in authority,

those who made the rules

that languages had to be

heard and not seen,

had not oppressed my father’s rights

as a child?

Some hear the world with their ears

but he hears the world with his eyes

Author's Notes/Comments: 

I wrote this for a class... my dad is hard-of-hearing and I was studying ASL/Deaf culture at the time... When my dad lost his hearing at the age of 4, the doctors told his mom never to let him learn sign language... because he wouldn't be as successful in life if he did... well my dad grew up very alone.. he didn't fit in with the Deaf community since he couldn't sign, and he didn't fit in with the hearing society, since he could not hear... Thinking about that just angers me... I wish I had grown up signing with my dad... Things might have been alot different...

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Chelsea N.'s picture

This poem deeply saddens me. :( Who can even fathom growing up like that? It msut have been so hard for him :( It's awesome that you are there for him though encouraging and helping him! Totally awesome!

Ruth Lovejoy's picture

This is bittersweet,I agree with your authors comment and have run into this being in the medical field.It is a sad loss for many....

anastazia's picture

This poem is stunning, heartbreaking, & powerful~ I hope you've shared it with the deaf community! My daughter is learning sign language, in her homeschooling, & she's the one who chose this poem, by it's title...she loved it so much! (She wants to write a critique, too, once she's got her own poems posted...she's 9...)
Your way of expressing yourself is inspiring, & I especially was touched by the last two lines. Thanks so much for sharing this, it really moved me, & is something that should be shared everywhere possible, to help others understand.