I’m sorry, could you repeat that. I’m hard of hearing.
To the cashier
To the receptionist
To the insistent man asking directions on the street

I’m sorry, I’m hard of hearing. Could you repeat that?
At the business meeting
In the writing workshop
On the phone to make a doctor’s appointment

I’m-sorry-I’m-sorry-I’m-so-sorry-I’m-hard-for-the-hearing

Repeat.

           Repeat.

Hello, my name is Sorry
To full rooms of strangers
I’m hard to hear

I vomit apologies everywhere
They fly on bat wings
towards whatever sound beckons

I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I am so, so sorry
           and repeating
                       and not hearing

Dear (again)
I regret to inform you

I       am

here

 

More by Camisha L. Jones

Ode to My Hearing Aids

Then God said
let there be sound
and divided the silence
wide enough for music 
to be let in and it was a good groove 
 
And God said
let there be overflow
sent sound in all directions
pin drops & children's laughter
phones ringing & plates clattering
and it was kind of good but too much at times
 
So God said
let there be volume control
let there be choice how loud life should be 
and there came the power to fade
the voices, the annoyances, the noise
and that was mighty good for all the unnecessary drama
 
Then God said let there be surprise, startle even
at the bird's chirp, the ice maker, 
the cabinet slammed shut
let there be delight
at the first calls in months
to father & best friend
and these were such good reasons for choking back tears 
that God saw
the dark & the light
dangling brilliantly from each ear
and God whispered amen
then smiled when it was heard.
 

Accommodation

The law wants my body reasonable
My body won't fence in its demands
Expects the world to stop
Whenever it wants to lay down
Throws up its middle finger
At deadlines, task lists,
Long awaited meetings
It ain't open to negotiation
Wants you to stop telling it to
Calm down
It has three settings: rest, spark, flare
All that talk about your inconvenience & your hardship
It calls that Bullshit
It will not wait in line
It will not be polite
It will not use its inside voice
It wants all the space
In every room of the house
The entire sky & the full lawn of grass
It wants to set it all aflame
My body is a pyromaniac
My body is the art 
Of Angela Bassett's right hand
Letting reason go up in smoke
 

Related Poems

On Being Told I Look Like FLOTUS, New Year’s Eve Party 2014

Deep in my biceps I know it’s a complement, just as
I know this is an all-black-people-look-alike moment.
So I use the minimal amount of muscles to crack a smile.
All night he catches sight of me, or someone like me, standing
next to deconstructed cannoli and empty bottles of Prosecco.
And in that moment, I understand how little right any of us have
to be whoever we are—the constant tension
of making our way in this world on hope and change.
You’re working your muscles to the point of failure,
Michelle Obama once said about her workout regimen, 
but she knows we wear our history in our darkness, in our                         patience.
A compliment is a complement—this I know, just as the clock
will always strike midnight and history repeats. This is how
I can wake up the next morning and love the world again.

At a Deli Counter in Vermont

Your ride home complains      the grocery store is freezing
they’d rather wait outside       the burly guy
with the walrus stache asks whether you want your Italian
with the works              You’re not sure what that means

So you ask and he tells you    laboriously surprised
and also do you want tomato              thanks
you lean on the counter and focus     on condensation
the chill on your palm and forearm    and under the glass

the meats in trays and butcher paper beds
some sausages            sad stacked-up tongue
a leathery souse or loaf            so out of it

that when he wants to know if that’s your order
and calls out loud         Is that your order ma’am
you startle and then apologize            for taking up his time
but he called you ma’am          so you don’t mind

I Won't Wash the Dishes Anymore

Translated from Portuguese by John Keene

I won’t wash the dishes anymore
Or dust the furniture
I'm sorry
I've begun to read
The other day I opened a book and a week later I decided
I won't carry the trash out to the trash bin
Or clean up the mess of leaves falling in the yard
I'm sorry
After reading I noticed each dish has its own aesthetic,
an aesthetic of traces, of ethics, of static
I look at my hands as they flip the books' pages
Hands much softer than they were before
I feel that I can start to be all the time
I feel. If something happens
I am not going to wash anymore. Nor bring
your rugs in for dry cleaning
My eyes grow teary
I'm sorry
Now that I've begun to read I want to understand,
why, why?
And why
things exist
I read and I read and I read
I even smiled
And left the beans to burn. . .
See, the beans always take time to cook
Let’s just say things are different now. . . .
Ah, I forgot to say
I won’t do it any more
I've resolved to have some time for myself
I've resolved to read about what's going on between us
Don't wait for me
Don't call for me
I won’t be going
From everything I've ever read, from everything I understand
It was you who went
Went too far, for too long, past the alphabet
It had to be spelled out for you
I won’t wash things to cover up the true filth
Or dust things clean and scatter the dust from here to there and from there to here
I'll disinfect my hands and avoid your moving parts
I won't touch alcohol
After so many years literate
I’ve learned to read
After so much time together
I’ve learned to make a break

My sneaker from your shoe
My drawer from your ties
My perfume from your scent
My canvas from your frame
That's how it is, I’m not washing a thing anymore
And I stare at the filth at the bottom of the glass

The moment always arrives
of shaking things up, of moving forward, of making sense of things
I do not wash dishes anymore
I read the signature on my Emancipation Proclamation in black capital letters,
size 18, double-spaced
I set myself free

I do not wash dishes anymore
I want silver platters
Deluxe kitchens
And gold jewelry
The real kind

So is the Emancipation Proclamation decreed