So there I am in Swinging London, sharing a flat amid the red corduroy and paisley
with a roommate who is, you might say, swinging for two (even in my dream,
I’m still the nerd), but on the plus side our apartment is in a bookshop and (yes!)
I can see the books…even the George Eliots have lovely brilliant covers.
I find a book (go-go boots, lime-green miniskirt) telling how cool London was
back in the day, though the day is exactly what I’m back in, and when I start to leave
the clerk says, “Hey man, you forgot your earbuds. What’s the point of buying a book
without the earbuds?”
They called it going for the muffs. We’d be talking in the kitchen
and my niece would sashay through, beatboxing to the Grandmaster Flash in her head
(don’t push me cause I’m close to the edge, I’m tryin not to lose my head)
as part of her largely unopposed campaign to be the flyest white girl
at St. Mark’s Catholic junior high, or her sister would march in
to re-litigate some fashion dispute involving either the retro Sex Pistols
t-shirt (Never let them take you alive) she was wearing or the pants she wasn’t.
Their mother, my sister, might drop a comment not totally free of sarcasm,
and as the volume and pitch rose I’d put a finger in each ear,
then someone would stop arguing long enough to say, “Look,
Roy’s gone for the muffs!”
I used earphones on the bus, against boredom but also to drown out, say,
the roarer on the back of the 84B with his “WullAAAAlgh! hurry up let’s go.”
I was squirming, desperate to pretend I couldn’t hear him because
I knew I was his twin, the other freak on the bus, even if I was still trying
to pass with a walking-stick instead of a proper white blind-guy cane,
even if nobody here could tell as a child I’d often used barks and squawks
in place of words, and by child I don’t mean a toddler, I mean I was ten.
See No, Hear No, Speak No…so crabbed and cramped, this muffled life. I’ll turn instead to the girl who longs for a furry manicotto and a warm and cozy death
with dear problematic Rodolfo. She didn’t let them take her alive; when they come for me, I’ll say, “Yeah, they call me Mimi. Why? I don’t know.”
Roy White is a blind person who lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota with a lovely woman and a handsome dog. A former ESL teacher and software engineer, his poems and essays have appeared in BOAAT Journal, Tinderbox, Lascaux Review and elsewhere, and he blogs at lippenheimer.wordpress.com.