Emily Bedard



Remember the time you announced
that you were no longer going to clean
your ear wax out, that you were, at last,
going to trust your ears to do their job
the way the Good Lord had intended,
which would have been easier to commit to
had you actually believed in God,
though sometimes grand gestures require
grand sacrifices, in this case your atheism,
which you sort of just wiped off yourself
with a mental swab and tossed out
the window of our conversation? At first
nothing was different. You were the same guy
with the same ears, a little mashed maybe,
but well formed, and the same hearing,
fond of the black-capped chickadees outside
our window in the early morning and the children
doing their Uncle Murray voices as they ran
through the sprinkler and the obscure radio shows
you found on the dial late at night by yourself.

………………….But gradually, by spring maybe,
the accumulation had begun to take hold
and you missed little snippets of conversation
around you, you looked in wonder at the patterns
of intricate feathers on the tiny gray wings,
undistracted by song. You had a look of half
amazement and half despair as the burbling,
clicking, rustling world fell away behind the wall
of silent wax in your head. We spoke to your face,
we raised our voices, but you just stared
at our mouths opening and shutting like fishes
gulping the wrong kind of air. And when
the muffling was complete, when your two ears
like tender contoured shells on the sides of your head
had fully erected a fortress of quiet, you just swam
alone in there in circles, listening to
the whispers of a God you had never believed in.


Emily Bedard writes poetry, fiction, and collaborative screenplays with her sister, Bridget Bedard. She has an M.F.A. from the University of Montana and lives in Seattle, where she teaches for Richard Hugo House, Seattle Arts & Lectures, and the Henry Art Gallery. Currently, Bedard is working on a new collection of poems, a novel, and a group of memoir-ish essays, all at the same time.