It is given to me
is the passive they’re parsing
in linguistics class.
I’m the sign language interpreter
for the Deaf student making
eyes at me
and noise with her corn chips’
She’s tonguing a corn chip
and wrinkling her nose
which she knows I know
means ooh salty,
and telling me in
no uncertain terms,
It is given to you.
Sometimes it happens
that way, love
just lands in your lap,
starts conjugating itself
in the second person
I will ask her to marry me,
to give up linguistics,
come live with me in
my house in the suburbs
among the Thickly
Here’s the church
and here’s the steeple,
the Deaf people will sit
where they can see
the sign language interpreter.
We will name our first child
the dilating mouth
fill our home
with the tongues of a hundred
the plosives of fish
browsing the fishbowl,
the shrugging shoulders
of the spider plants,
the noiseless stutter
it’s all just tremblingly,
People in Deaf Houses
Here’s the church and here’s the steeple.
The Deaf students have barricaded the door,
hot-wired the school buses, moved them
in front of the gates and let the air out of the tires.
They’ve shut the campus down, and the police
can’t do anything about it because they don’t
know sign language. And neither does the president
of the college. And neither does the chairman of the board
of trustees, and neither do the trustees themselves.
The trustees can’t be trusted with this college, this
church, this school, this blessed sacrament…
In the Deaf world Deaf people marry
other Deaf people, and live in Deaf houses,
and do not throw Deaf carpenters’ telephone numbers
away, but give them to other Deaf homeowners
looking for a good Deaf carpenter, because Deaf
is a good and trusted name all over the Deaf world…
Here’s the hospital and here’s the urology unit.
Open the door and see all the doctors
with their deft fingers and expensive educations.
Here is one performing a vasectomy
on a Deaf patient who has elected to have it
because he doesn’t want any more children.
And the surgeon has a slight accent, maybe
German. And the sign language interpreter
has a professional code of ethics,
and is signing what the surgeon is saying
but not what the interpreter is thinking
about German-speaking surgeons and vasectomies,
about Aryans and eugenicists and the forced
sterilizations of the congenitally deaf
Paul Hostovsky makes his living in Boston as a sign language interpreter. His latest book of poems is Mostly (FutureCycle Press, 2021). Website: www.paulhostovsky.com
EDITOR'S SONG PAIRING:
KHAAB by AKHIL