I Can Hear You But I Can’t Understand The Words You’re Saying

This summer I met Alan Ehrlich, Independent Researcher in the Area of Listening Disorders and Listening Rehabilitation (http://listeningdisorders.org), at the ILA convention. He wrote this beautiful poem.

I can hear you whispering in my ears
The warmth of your breath and the sweetness, the smell of you
I instinctively know what you’re saying
I think
But I can’t understand the words you’re saying

I move to the front of the classroom
can hear much better from there
I watch carefully to see what you’re saying
To try to gain meaning from the sounds
But I can’t understand the words you’re saying

We hold each other tight as we watch a movie on TV
You giggle as the characters tell a funny story
I turn up the volume and try to catch more of the dialogue
The sounds get louder
But I still can’t understand the words they’re saying

The phone rings and I don’t want to answer it
Its painful to listen to the person on the other end
I hear the sounds of conversation but only pieces of the words
Its too difficult to grasp for a meaning
Because I can’t understand the words they’re saying

Conversations are too challenging so I avoid them
Leaving my friends and family to wonder what’s wrong
I’ve withdrawn into myself, not wanting to see anyone
For fear of hearing them talk
Because I can’t understand the words they’re saying

All’s quiet, not because I can’t hear, I really can
But the sounds are meaningless mumbles, frustratingly difficult to decipher
I hide from everyone so as not to appear disconnected or unintelligent
Dealing with the noise and chatter is too much, the quiet is easier
Because I can’t understand the words you’re saying

©2009 Alan R. Ehrlich (all rights reserved)

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