What the Right Hand Knows

I am not in stereo.
Deaf in one ear,

I am unable
with any accuracy

to pinpoint clamor
and quiet.

Argument reaches me
only on my left or

marching down
the center of the street

of other traffic.

I lose the background,
the sotto voce.

I lose scratch,
whisper, rain,

white noise, color
if it’s muted,

the good gossip
unless I turn to it.

Stories must
circle west

toward twilight.
I have no east.

I learned this
on an ordinary afternoon,

my parents fighting,
torching one another,

and the only place
to run for cover

was standing there,
covering my ears.

But my right hand slipped—
to nothing.

I rolled up the gates,

brought my fingers
flat again, lifted

one, then the other.
Both hands. Neither.

I don’t know why I didn’t
cry or

tell anyone
the sound wasn’t working.

Suddenly strange,
hearing and not—

I kept the sugar taste
of that secrecy

until eventually

landed on the moon

and our family’s first
color console

broadcast the Earth
reflected in the bubble

over the astronaut’s face—
itself another

attached to the body

of the best father
of all possible worlds.

Did you know,
I said to my mother,

that the moon’s dark side
has no sound?