Loretta Oleck

Soundless

He squeezes my cheek
Tilts my head to the side
Tucks a small funnel deep into my ear
Spills in the Van Gogh Vodka

It feels funny but he commands me not to laugh

He says,
This is serious business– this drying out of the canal

My other ear and my other cheek press hard against the wooden table
The same cheek that my father slapped when I wouldn’t wear
A yellow raincoat that had cost him an arm and a leg

I wonder how drunk I can get sipping vodka through my ear
Or if I’d ever again be able to hear

My father lost his hearing when he was forty-five
No longer hearing words rolling into a crescendo
No longer rubbing the buttery feel of them under the sheets
No longer stumbling over the unexpected faux pas
Tumbling off a tongue

What would words sound like if the vodka never drained?

Stay still, he scolds, pouring in more
Now I hear him loud and clear

I’m done lying here with cheek pressed to wood

My cheek-
Familiar with the streak of tears

My cheek-
Sliced open when the slap became a blow
And my father, deaf, couldn’t hear me scream


Loretta Oleck is a poet (and psychotherapist) with work published or forthcoming in Feminist Studies, The Missing Slate, Mas Tequila, WordRiot, Obsidian, Black Lawrence Press, High Coupe, Right Hand Pointing, CommonLine Journal, Stone Hobo, Cultural Weekly, The Westchester Review, and numerous others. Her poetry chapbook, “Persephone Dreaming of Cherries” was published by Hurricane Press, and her work was selected to be included in “The Best of 2013”anthology by Storm Cycle. Her poetry was performed and filmed as part of the Public Poetry Series by Fjords Review. She has performed all over New York including the Paramount Theater and the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art.  She holds a Masters degree in creative writing from New York University.

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