By Annika Barnard
“This poem is about what it’s like to learn a language for your partner if they have a different native language. I learned Japanese for my boyfriend and my boyfriend learned American Sign Language for me. Learning a new language is similar to becoming a child again, thus the references to the different stages of learning to walk.”
I search for the words in my lover’s hand Teetering between r and l sounds I wobble now, but someday I will stand. “Yes, you say this word...and?” Illegible etchings in my notebook compound I search for the words in my lover’s hand. “So kudasai implies a command?” He hurls verbs at me until my head pounds I wobble now, but someday I will stand. I have found a home in another land Thanks to him with patience abound I search for the words in my lover’s hand. The dictionary is left on the nightstand Took a few steps without falling to the ground I wobble now, but someday I will stand. Thanks to you, hard work, an adventure unplanned, My Japanese has grown leaps and bounds I search for the words in my lover’s hand, I wobble now, but someday I will stand.
WITH A CAPITAL D
By Annika Barnard
“With a Capital D” is about why being Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing in a hearing world is so difficult. It’s a balancing act between being angry at the discrimination you face on a daily basis and the pride in the community you belong to.”
My hands replace my mouth And tell of my thoughts Yet the hands of others smother me Hearing and Deaf alike Judge whether I should be the one. But I have no choice Mandatory education comes on the daily The only choice I have Is to suffocate or advocate So that I may participate in the majority “Where is your accent from?” “What are those things in your ears?” “You don’t look Deaf.” “Oh I simply couldn’t LIVE without music.” “Did you mention this during your job interview?” We do not wish to hear, We do not wish to be like you. We wish we did not have to survive in your world. We write down notes, we read Your conversations on your lips, We read, write, sometimes speak In YOUR language, And yet YOU complain how hard it is to communicate. The silence is deafening. The silence is not peaceful When your people are demanding That we hear their noise.