Two Poems by Allison Smith

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All 281 Days

It has been exactly 281 days
since I last wrote of yesteryears,
of DEFCON Level 5 fuckery,
of pain, of harm, of shadows;
with the knowing commentary of…”it’s been years”.


It has been exactly 281 days
since I last wrote of it / them;
tired of hearing the words “bitter,” “stuck,”
“forgiveness,” “trust” —
tired of hearing of how control is tied to metaphorical write-offs,
tied to grace left unearned,
tied to worth as a person
in a sickening equation of misunderstood dynamics.


My bones do not stop remembering;
the occasional relentless need to be awake, awake, awake
in the oddest hours of the day.
“Soldier’s Watch”, they call it,
except I’m the only one who can detect the mines,
gotten damn good at it, all these years later…
…but they are there.
Quiet tendrils I am aware of.
Quiet unease and recognition that things haven’t been the same.
It took a long time for the men around me,
whom I adore, cherish, look up to
to stop walking on eggshells they didn’t crack;
took a long time for the halved family tree
to feel more safe than it did sad,
for the “dead girl” to be okay even when it went unasked.
And it all sank in
so
comfortingly.
Like warm blankets just fluffed and dried,
warm smiles, arms, and sweet movie nights.
But the mines still linger, though there’s fewer these days,
the memories still whisper of the things they’d say.
This isn’t bitterness.


This is being okay and making it work.
This is knowing exactly how to balance,
how to breathe, how to anticipate, how to soothe,
how to chatter in a way that carefully under loads,
carefully undershows.
This is knowing the darkest parts of a person,
to be shattered,
and to somehow not be quaking in fear.
Any more.

Of Crickets & Minefields

Mother tells me not to forget I was born hearing
as if scarred lines on my ears do not speak for themselves.
I guess she noticed I was growing up quicker
and thought I wouldn’t remember when the
silence started to ring its own bells.


Mother tells me of a world that is changing,
surrounded by Everests hushed in white gowned sighs.
Their clinical language is a tongue left lacking:
“progressive mixed” – a funeral dirge spaced in time.


Mother tells how I was never supposed to be here,
to walk these expensively plain college halls or hold a degree,
Mother knows, Mother knows, of molds I am breaking
and the rough hewn path I must carve for me.
Every time, I imagine Mother smiles somewhere softly,
perhaps at “our” river where the fish skim the sky.
She cannot measure the gulfs that yawn menacingly,
can only dream of an expedition scouting party made up of two;
Mother tries, Mother tries, but she is hearing
her silence left to blend with the crickets singing adieu,
lost its way as the snowflakes fell, kissed the earth,
like the sound sauntered out in goodbye;
when asked why she cared that I arrived as hearing
she couldn’t navigate minefields left entombed,
medical records narrating the march of encroaching doom.


I sleep under ever-watchful Luna in the silence
as Mother cries, Mother cries all through the night;
A journey of two left for one to complete –
between two worlds who each hold no reckoning;
puzzle pieces irreparably cut to inappropriate size.
To live in this unspoken space of checkerboard black and white
is to know unattained joy etched against both sides.
To be born hearing and to leave without,
to enunciate clearly and still have to shout –
of reveries lost and prayers tossed aside;
deaf or hearing,
to which am I?

Allison Smith writes: Originally from the Southeast Texas coast, I am now living and based out of Northern Virginia. As a writer, I have been active since the age of 13. When I was 16 and 17, I became Deaf and the topics around the world of disability are often the subject or partial subject of my writings. Now married, I work full-time as a high school Special Education teacher, striving to make a difference in this world in any way that I can.

Image by Nicolas girard-bissonnette, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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