Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Strange Things I Heard at a Restaurant


I was always curious why the word
music,
Had its own motion in sign language.

There is a large cosmopolitan crowd surrounding me,
The middle Ohio upper class
Clogging the essential arteries of an upscale restaurant,
I look from person to person expecting some kind of likeness.
I find nothing, perhaps a familiar lack of patience.

Complaints are being tossed at the hostess
faster then orders for T bone steaks in the kitchen,
I hear that and ignore it,
wanting nothing to do with this culture.

I see a pregnant woman and her mother,
keeping close watch over an obnoxious,
overly curious
four year old, looking disgustedly around,
motioning at the waiting bench I am sitting on.

She sizes me up and determines that I am no worthy
bench mate.
No matter,
As I am seated I hear her saying something to her pregnant daughter,
about some rude people at a table making overt hand gestures at
each other.

I am trying to overhear something useful,
compelling.

As I watch the table beside mine,
A deaf man and three friends,
Their conversation is loud: hands are quickly
Speaking about their day,
Their dinners and surely how nice the weather was.

I wonder how long it took this man’s friends to learn,
the intricate art of sign language,
And I realize there is more beauty in this man’s thumb
Then the dialogue of every other table in the place.

As I watch, fascinated at how intently this quiet conversation
Fills these four friends with smiles,
That we take our language for granted.
They are practicing singing while I self-consciously pick
at a burger.

It is music to my ears