One of my favourite places to write, other than my art room on a sunny morning, is a local cafe – sitting at the quiet table in the corner, between a small forest of monsterras next to the window.
If we go at the right time, it’s the perfect place. Wonderful art on the walls, a good coffee at my elbow and plenty of people to observe if I get stuck for ideas. It is busy, but not too noisy – loud enough to drown out the constant tinnitus soundtrack my ears create, but still quiet enough for me to concentrate undistracted.
If we go at the wrong time, it’s bedlam. I’m not good with noise. That over-sensitive trigeminal nerve of mine reacts badly to sharp or loud sounds. Going at the wrong time, the cafe is crammed full and it’s all crash and clatter. The noise might drown out my ears temporarily, but afterwards, the tinnitus goes wild.
So we avoid the wrong times – lunchtime any day, or most of Saturdays. We usually go for a late breakfast, or afternoon tea, and an hour or two of writing. But sometimes, we have a timing malfunction, and somehow, when I’m trying to write about animals, I end up writing about . . .
~ ~ ~ ~
My ears are echoing barrels
of ocean tumult.
Not conch shells whispering secrets
of wind and waves
Not storysongs of dolphins and whales
but snarled honks and trumpets
harsh whistles of creatures
that swim where light does not reach.
My ears are rattling drums
of rain forest commotion.
Not the gentle hiss and swish
of a breeze dancing in agile branches
Not the soft spot-spat-spit
of rain on shivering leaves.
But a wild, discordant orchestra
all squeal and screech and roar,
a cacophony of tiger, frog and lemur,
of jaguar and macaw.
I want to hear silence.
I want to know absence of sound.
But my ears have no manners,
derailing concentration, conversations,
every moment of peace.
They are unruly rebels, noisy creatures
specialists can name
but cannot tame.
first published in a fine line, winter 2021