lipreading hearing loss

Move Your Lips, Dammit!

Hey girlfriend!

If there’s one thing I’d like you to do for me

It’s to move your lips more, so that I can see

What you’re trying to say.

 

We’ve been friends forever and I can tell what you’re thinking,

It’s the way your mouth says stuff that confuses me,

Because they don’t move. Not much.

Except when you move them too much

In an attempt to make me hear

That frustrates us both.

 

There’s not much I can do about strangers who speak

With magnetized lips, frozen to each other.

And when their voice escapes their mouth’s small blowhole,

It’s a soft monotone that I strain to hear,

Or abstain from even trying to chat.

 

And you, my friend – I’ve trained you well,

But neither of us are perfect.

I can figure you out, most of the time, through years of practice.

This place is noisy and dim, but we come here because it’s cool.

Our skinny lattes are cool. We are cool.

But as we sip…..

You’ve got one eye glued to your cellphone,

 The other eye split between my face and the 

Action around us .

 

But as we talk, both of my eyes are drilled on you,

Trying to match your lips and your eyes to the sounds

You make, and realizing I need to improve my interpreting.

But what can I do when your lips are smiling but your eyes are not?

Or when I hear happy words, yet see a solemn face?

 I have no choice but to once again, and again, and again

Ask you to repeat yourself.

 

Then I feel your impatient, invisible eye-rolling.

I’m immediately stressed and I want to hiss:

 OK, I’m sorry to ask you to repeat – again, 

But move your lips, dammit!

But I can’t.

 

I’m doing all I can to understand

This place isn’t that loud or that dark.

We’re sitting close and I’m the Technology Queen

But what’s out of my hands is the way you move your lips,

Girl, you just don’t ‘give good lip’!

 

Sometimes I’d like to pinch your lips in my fingers

And move them around and farther apart as you make words

Of throaty vowels and tinkly consonants

Letting you feel how different the words can sound

As they escape your mouth

And come out in the world.

 

Would that cross friendship’s boundaries?

We’ve been friends forever, and it’s tough to change

The way we speak.

I know you try and for that I love you.

So, with an internal sigh

And an external time-worn gesture

I ask you please tell me – again – 

What you just said.

.

Note: This is a new version of my piece “If I Could Move Your Lips For You”, first published in April of 2012 by HearingHealthMatters.org

 

About Gael Hannan

Gael Hannan is a writer, speaker and advocate on hearing loss issues. In addition to her weekly blog for HearingHealthMatters.org, which has an international following, Gael wrote the acclaimed book "The Way I Hear It: A Life with Hearing Loss". She is regularly invited to present her uniquely humorous and insightful work to appreciative audiences around the world. Gael has received many awards for her work, which includes advocacy for a more inclusive society for people with hearing loss. She lives with her husband on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada.

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