Thursday, November 12, 2009

Voices in the Noise

Tinnitus is the most constant of companions. Though I can ignore it when louder noises penetrate the shimmering curtain of white noise, the hissing—reminiscent of static on old amplifiers and tube radio sets—is always there to fill any void left by those moments of complete and utter silence I dreaded as child. Now they seem a treasure beyond reach, a shadowed memory of the times before noise.

My family tires of televisions and radios set to high volume, so that I can separate the dialog from the music score on movies and television shows, or pick out the lyrics on a favorite song. Mostly, I miss singing reliably, for the notes playing in my head are usually not the ones I am supposed to deliver. It can be confusing.

Sometimes, as I try to sleep, I think I can hear distant voices in the hissing veil of sound, like radio stations just out of reach. They might be there, but I am not certain. Like watching the snow on the television when the cable goes out, ghost images and spectral sounds are created in the overloaded senses by a imaginative mind. I wonder if I could dream about silence?


Voices in the Noise

The scale of the problem's beyond belief;
The hissing and ringing are far too great.
The realm of dreams is my only relief,
In the true redoubt of unconscious state.
Awake, I embrace life's deafening roar;
Grieving for quiet, so long departed
That I doubt I would know it any more—
For silence left town when this stuff started.
Though sopranos may soar, up to the sky,
With altos swift following, on the trail,
And tenors are wailing, wondering why
The basses have dropped off the bottom scale;
I can no longer join in the singing:
I have to answer—my ear is ringing!

Mick McKellar
November 2009

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