I am Deaf.
My fingers speak.
A coiffed paintbrush in my grasp,
my voice streaks turquoise and magenta
across a parched canvas.
Vowels coo through thirsty linen.
Click-clacking keys with my mother tongue,
I chew hard consonants
and spit them out.
Sour, a scathing sonnet can be at dusk.
Fingertips pave slick exclamations,
punctuated by nails sinking low into clamminess.
I sculpt hyperboles.
The Mushroom Caves in Madrid
remember when we descended the dank hollow,
hollow like the cool, clay ashtrays cradling the
spent brown butts we found cowering behind the whiskey bottle
that they swilled in the mushroom caves
following the bullfight
and you huddled at the foot of my bed in the tangy orange afghan we shared
after the beast trickled blood uncauterized that night
in the pen dusted crimson.
you liked the banderilla’s pink crêpe paper;
we willed it pretty.
we crawled under the table, sticky
oak legs spread wide,
swollen, soaked, and stiff.
garlic burned more than sangria.
my twin, my deaf mirror,
sign with your tiny hands and
what time are we allowed to eat stuffed mushrooms?
“My Voice” and “The Mushroom Caves in Madrid” first appeared in Stone Poetry Journal.
Kelly Sargent‘s poems and artwork in 2021, including a current Best of the Net nominee, appeared or are forthcoming in nearly two dozen literary publications. Her poetry chapbook entitled Seeing Voices: Poetry in Motion is also forthcoming (Kelsay Books, 2022). She serves as Creative Nonfiction Editor of The Bookends Review and an assistant nonfiction editor for Newfound. She also reviews for an organization dedicated to making visible the artistic expression of sexual violence survivors. Born HOH and adopted in Luxembourg with a deaf twin sister, she grew up in Europe and the U.S., and also wrote for a national newspaper for the Deaf.