Monday, August 6, 2012

Deaf Poem: You Have To Be Deaf To Understand





You have to be Deaf to Understand
By Willard J. Madsen, 1971

What is it like to hear a hand? 
You have to be Deaf to understand.
What is it like to be a small child
In a school, in a room void of sound--
With a teacher who talks and talks and talks;
and then when she does come to you,
she expects you to know what she has said?
You have to be Deaf to understand.

Or the teacher who thinks that to make you smart
You must first learn how to talk with your voice;
So mumbo-jumbo with hands on your face
For hours and hours without patience or end,
Until out comes a faint resembling sound?
You have to be Deaf to understand.

What is it like to be curious--
To thirst for knowledge you can call your own,
With an inner desire that's set on fire--
And you ask a brother, sister, or friend
who looks in answer and says, 'never mind' ?
You have to be Deaf to understand.

What is it like in a corner to stand,
Though there's nothing you've done really wrong
Other than try to make use of your hands
To a silent peer to communicate
A thought that comes to your mind all at once?
You have to be Deaf to understand.

What is it like to be shouted at
When one thinks that will help you to hear
Or misunderstand the words of a friend
Who is trying to make a joke clear,
and you don't get the point because he's failed?
You have to be Deaf to understand.

What is it like to be laughed in the face
When you try to repeat what is sad;
Just to make sure you've understood
And you find that the words were misread--
And you want to cry out, 'Please help me, friend!" ?
You have to be Deaf to understand.

What is it like to have to depend
Upon one who can hear to phone a friend;
Or place a call to a business firm
And be forced to share what's personal and
Then find that your message was not made clear?
You have to be Deaf to understand.

What is it like to be Deaf and alone
In the company of those who can hear--
And you only guess as you go along,
For no one there's with a helping hand,
As you try to keep up with words and song?
You have to be Deaf to understand.

What is it like on the road of life
to meet a stranger who opens his mouth--
And speaks out a line at a rapid pace;
And you can't understand the look in his face
Because it is new and you're lost in the race?
You have to be Deaf to understand.

What is it like to comprehend
Some nimble fingers that paint the scene
And make you smile and feel serene
With the "spoken word" of the moving hand
That makes you part of the world at large?
You have to be Deaf to understand.

What is it like to hear a hand? 
Yes, you have to be Deaf to understand.