Tuesday, 18 October 2016

HoH/Hear our Hands or Hard-of-Hearing

I grew up as a monolingual oral deaf boy
But now I am a multilingual signing man
Doctors treated me as a damaged toy
‘No Sign Language’, they said, ‘do you understand?’

Yes, that is a silent ‘d’, just like me.
The language of the Deaf, now with a capital ‘D’
That shattered my crystal prison of loneliness and pity
And gave me signs for everything and I found intimacy

I realised that Sign Language is not my language to own
But it is the voice of silence of a multitude of deaf minds and souls.
Using the language for knowledge, stories, jokes and poetry
This opens the world of silence and makes wounded deaf lives whole.

The bitter memories of my mainstream school experience remind
Me of the loneliness, frustration and tears from years exclusion.
I have bitter knowledge of ignoring my past by saying “I am fine”
I used the ‘deaf nod’ to pass. But my life was an unhappy delusion.

So to calm the disquiet of deaf denial, I tried to bury my bitter past,   
But now, the trauma of the past can hurt me no more.
The sweetness and the bitterness of life made me strong, at last
In their eyes, I am ‘hearing-impaired’, but not in mine anymore.

I have a new language and I am telling a new story of me.
But when I chose to ignore my hearing-aids and my voice
And say that I am deaf and a signer, naively,
Then I found myself telling another lie: ‘I am not Deaf enough’.

And I felt excluded from the Deaf community:
Sign language is not my first language nor did I go to a school for the Deaf
Until I realised that for me both languages and lives are in unity
What do I say when I meet you? Am I deaf/Deaf/HoH/ of DeaF?  
Hear my hands, watch and listen with your mind and soul
To my HEARING words and DEAF hands
I have two eyes, two hands and one voice: 

Let my voice and hands speak true
And my ears and eyes will listen to you.

                                                                           Guy Mcilroy 18 October 2016

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