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Breath & Shadow

Summer 2021 - Vol. 18, Issue 3

"Don’t Listen to Me"

written by

Juliet Corwin

Don’t listen to me

As the words roll 


Out of my toddler’s mouth.

As each verbalization

Is accompanied 

By my pudgy fingers’ dancing - 

I never could dance

Never could keep a beat. 

If it is not something I can feel, it is not something I can hear. 

Don’t listen to me

As I am crumpled by a hearing world’s 


Believing I can never be as good never make up for being so loudly 


As I double over with a stomach ache


For something that was only almost mine. 

Doors slamming closed

With my beginner’s fingers 

Crushed in the hinges. 

Don’t listen to me

As my tongue 

Nurses my bruised language - 

And I sucked my thumb until second grade. 

As I perfected the act that is my 


They “would never have known I am deaf if I had not told them”

So I’ve stopped telling them -

I struggle in the silence  

Of my dreams. 

Alone, apart from my shuddering stuttering heartbeats. 

I can feel them, so I can hear them. 

Don’t listen to me

As I identify with a community 

That does not want me.

That will not cannot 

Forgive me. 

The choice wasn’t mine to make 

But I live with it 

Unforgiven and un


As I bounce at the opportunity

To flutter my fingers in 

Rudimentary sentences. 

Don’t listen to me

As I stumble into consonants trip over phrases

Scrape my knees trying to keep up. 

As I lie in the nights

When my breathing slows

And sing myself to sleep

Along to tunes

I cannot hear. 

Those mornings 

When the clocks are moving slow

And so are you

I soak in silence

As long as I can. 

Don’t listen to me

As I learn how to live in between two worlds

Visitor’s pass in my pocket 

Next to my student ID. 

As I glance in the mirror and see

A walking contradiction

Winking back. 

Feeling out of place 

Is easy to hide from everyone 

But myself. 

So I just 

Don’t listen to me.

Juliet Corwin is a rising senior in Western MA. She enjoys writing, singing in her car, and laughing with her friends.

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