The lovely Christine (aka Inwardly Digesting) mentioned recently that she suffered from tinnitus. This permanent presence of sound must be maddening, and I almost hesitate to append my Birdsong Tinnitus poem here lest it cause offense. Almost.
This was the first poem I ever performed at Liverpool's Dead Good Poets Society back in 2003 (in the days before Twitter - which gives the poem a whole new subtext now). I'm sure the first few words will have alarmed them.
Incidentally, it turns out that recordings of birdsong are supposed to alleviate tinnitus - you can buy devices that play relaxing nature sounds including bird song, ocean waves, brook and summer night from the British Tinnitus Association.
Tweet, tweet, tweet.
All the bloody time.
She was lucky, they said, to have
birdsong tinnitus. It was quite rare.
(Others had bombs and guns –
the artillery kind). So everywhere
was like a summer meadow, her head
rang with twittering which no-one else could hear
- except her cat, which perked a psychic ear
towards that invisible chirping, tweeting, peeping,
keeping two inscrutable eyes on her,
waiting for feathers.
She’d always hated birds – nasty
little heads and beady eyes, always
watching and pecking and crapping.
In all weathers and seasons each dawn
welcomed her with a cheerful chorus
that went on all day and all night
until the next dawn and the next one
repeating an endless anthem of joy and hope,
a fresh and innocent soundtrack to accompany
all the bad things that happened to her.
As her life grew bleak the birds still sang
their dainty cage inside her head,
immune from all her rage
- right up until she pulled the trigger
on some kind of hunting rifle
to silence those damned birds.
(c) Clare Kirwan 2003
First Published in Ragged Raven's 2004 Anthology: Dress of nettles
Added 7 Jan 2011: If you enjoyed this on any level, you would doubtless be delighted by Happiness Concluded from the whacky pen of Will Type for Food... I know I was!