C. E. Chaffin


After midnight
when traffic diminishes
she still can't hear the ocean's
swells flatten on sand.
I raise my finger like a wave
and curl it to signal
the crescendo / decrescendo
of my favorite sound.
Head cocked like a spaniel,
her eyes register nothing
but a failed expectancy.

When storms ascend from Baja
she will hear the crash and slide
of my Pacific. Until then
there are compensations,
how her fingers brush my scalp
more tenderly than any infant baptism,
how she moves like water,
how I bury my head in her belly
and listen to the distant
thumping of her aorta.

* * *


Your silver hair, thick and soft,
dangles two strands against
your auricle's pale whorls
like electric filaments
seeking to reconnect your nerves
to this lost world of sound.

I won't dwell on your deafness
except to say what you say:
"My deafness made me—"
made you a better listener
than all the lazy-eared hearing
I've ever met, made you so fluent in touch
that a brief visit from your fingers
has more syllables than a sonnet.

Your Irish brows
rise from your bridge in a half arc
of permanent laughter
then laterally descend
to your eye's corners
equally prepared to weep.
Your skin, softer than mist
over a warm lagoon at night,
smells soft.

            And while you sleep,
that triple frown between your brows,
the one I fear, lies unclenched like a scar of
frozen lightning.

C. E. Chaffin, M.D. FAAFP, lives in Northern California with his wife and true love, fellow poet Kathleen Chaffin. He suffers from manic-depression and chronic spinal pain and has been on disability since 1995, but finds time to volunteer with the homeless, mentally ill, and as a "Master Gardener" through the University of California. Widely published, he edited The Melic Review for eight years. Shoe size: same as mouth.