Kristen Ringman


In the aftermath of death,
the worst part about being deaf
is the words I can't catch:
Slow deliberations of what to eat,
how much food to make for a gathering,
the color of the tomatoes or their taste
in our mouths.
Without these words, there is no
path to lead me through the route
of their memory. Allow me
the space to sit and support.
Something of me to give. Because
they are still here and
so am I.

When the words fall down around me,
I trip, I stumble, I roll
away under a couch with the dust,
with the dead that I feel closer to
than these survivors.

Deaf. Dead.
I once had an interpreter mix up these
words. Now I know–
it's no accidental association.
Like the small talk we make
in the wake of death,
every lost word carries
a world of meaning that knocks
against my foot on its way across the floor.
I feel no different from
the ashes of whom we've lost,
scattered and dirty, ashamed of
my own radiation.
I hide as if I am made of
the same dangerous powder,
the same crushed bones they
packed in a box and shipped away.
White powder that shouldn't be touched.
I am.
So I hide because sometimes,
deaf and dead
mean the same thing.


Kristen Ringman is currently living in New Hampshire and working on a YA urban fantasy saga. Her first novel, Makara, was published in 2012 by Handtype Press. She received her MFA from Goddard College in 2008. More details of her publication history and current events can be found on her website: .