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Sunday 20 March 2011


Some. like myself, have echo chambers in the brain.
We hear a sound, the sound gets trapped, runs round again.
All sound is in the brain, of course, does not exist
outside. Outside are fluctuations in the air,
its pressures on the inner ear equipped to turn
them into signals to the brain, where we live through
them in the form of sound. For some years now I've had
just such a chamber in my head. One ear has lost
its usefulness; the nerve, unstimulated and,
like all of nature in its hatred of the smallest
of near-vacuums, has learnt self-stimulation,
composing its own music and defying me
to tell the difference. It lays a single note
from somewhere in the body, runs it round a few
times, adding overtones and undertones and half
tones to the score. It's chamber music with a penny
difference, the sound-equivalent of being stood
between two mirrors, seeing endless images
extending into space. Sometimes the music sounds
like speech, like voices murmuring from far away;
sometimes the notes are dragged through water, lose their shape.
At times, I feel for those distinguished or deluded
souls who think they hear God's voice - or angels - telling
them what they should think and do. And then I think of
all the sounds the world creates, suggestive of our
human speech: the deep voice of the ocean, for
a start, and I can understand their guilessness.


Jim Murdoch said...

My father suffered from tinnitus towards the end of his life. It’s strange, I think I could cope with any of my other senses being affected in some way – I could lose my sight now because I’ve seen enough to last me a lifetime and I could lose the power to speak because I ‘speak’ through my fingers more these days than my mouth. My mouth asks when tea’s going to be ready and, “Shall we go to bed now?” But I’d hate anything to intrude on my mind and that’s the thing about tinnitus, it’s invasive. You can close your eyes against bright lights or pinch your nose if some smell is too much but how horrible to stick your fingers in your ears and it doesn’t make a damn bit of difference.

JeannetteLS said...

Now, see? I missed that entirely, tinnitus... To me? It was all metaphor, the way we hear things with some other ear. Ah, well. PErhaps that's what I wanted to see on this morning. Simply beauty. And that is the joy of poetry, isn't it?

Sailor said...

Sometimes I feel the same in my head too. Not too often. What do you think, should I preserve it or let it out?

Corinna said...

The brain does crazy things in the attempt to keep our world level, known, safe. If you haven't read it, I suggest reading "Phantoms of the Brain". Awesome book.

Isabel Doyle said...

a physiological explanation is so colourless - I am sure it is the voice of the Muse whispering to you

CiCi said...

Isn't that the truth. Sometimes I "hear" or "see" something in my head and I almost ask hubby did he hear or see it too.

Louise said...

Beautifully written Dave, you took us on a wonderful journey here.

Helen said...

If only ... if only we had the ability to describe with insight and eloquence what it is like when one ear has lost its usefulness.

Rose said...

Wonderfully descriptive auditory perception. Beautifully written!

LR Photography said...

Voices of the ocean I heard...strange voices.

Windsmoke. said...

How awful to have a constant ringing in your ears that is tinnitus that would drive me around the twist for sure :-).

Carl said...

Now I am convinced you can write about anything.

Markku said...

A great read David. Stumbled upon your blog doing a google search for tinnitus poems. :)

I posted two pieces of yours to our new tinnitus support forum, Tinnitus Talk: http://www.tinnitustalk.com/threads/tinnitus-poems-writings.69/

Hope you don't mind, these captured a part of the condition so well that I thought I'd let others to read them too.

All the best to you,