Thursday Poem


My father’s tinnitus is like the hiss off a water cooler,
only louder. And it doesn’t just stop like, say, a hand-dryer— the worst is
it comes and goes. Or you shine a light on it
and it looks permanent as the sea,

a tideless sea that won’t go away. The masker
he’s been prescribed is a tiny machine, an arc of white noise
that blacks out a lot
but can’t absorb the interference totally

any more than you or I — taking the air,
stirring milk into coffee, daydreaming through the six o’clock news,
trying to sleep on a wet night —
can simply switch off what’s always there, a particular memory

nagging away, the erosive splash off a little river
wearing down the road, say, on the Connor Pass,
a day out, through which he’d accelerate
in the flash, orange Capri.

by John McAuliffe
from Next Door
publisher: Gallery Press, Oldcastle, 2007