When I was young, I marveled at how my dad could hear anything – me whispering in the bed as he came down the hall, a possum moving in the stack of firewood outside, the first baby Robin fallen from a nest into the weeds.
It seemed an amazing trait to have and I dreamed of walking the woods at night, responding to a call no one else could hear.
I should know to be careful what you wish for. In the last year, I’ve realized that I’ve inherited my father’s hearing and, while it is a lovely trait in some respects, in others it is a curse. While trying to fall asleep at night, I am disturbed by the sound of my husband’s dry fingers brushing against his flannel pajamas, or the sound of his tongue moving in his mouth. No kidding! I often wake to the unmistakable sound of a cricket in the wall, or a field mouse playing in the attic. The night moves, and I hear.
Now before you start thinking I should have my own reality show, let me say that this talent is only present in my right ear. That’s actually a blessing because it means a simple shift in the way I am sleeping can pretty much drown out the cricket. But other sounds can’t even be muffled by three inches of down – the sound of a bobcat crossing the lawn, a leaf stuck in the gutter, a branch bent too close to another.
My father has always known things about the world, about the night and the shape of leaves. He hears the message of a waning moon and the first spring rain, and can tell the difference between a dove and a hawk just by the whisper of wings against the wind.
It may cost me more than a little sleep, but I am definitely listening.
of those to know
and those to feel –
who am I to differ
would swear the song
plays still in ancient pines
was wrestled there some moons ago
when light forgot to glisten –
the stars to tell the dark
I love you so