Edith is deaf, so every day is a day of
silence for her, white haired, hair-net,
rubber-gloved, wearing her apron in the cafeteria.
She has a sign that reads, “My name is Edith.
I am deaf, but I can read lips, so please
speak slowly. Thank you.”
But today in the high school, you wear a sign
on a lanyard in solidarity with the LGBTQ kids
which proclaims the day as a day of silence
and Edith sees your sign, squints at it
through her glasses when you arrive for
your usual cup of coffee.
She leans over the counter, takes a corner of it
and reads the back which explains the silence
is to honor those people silenced by violence
or made to live in fear of bigotry, oppression,
ignorance or prejudice because
of who they love
or who they are.
Edith lets your sign fall back to your chest,
she raises her blue eyes, eyes so blue they might be
heaven. You never took much notice before. She comes
around the counter and hugs you.
She smears tears from her cheeks ruining her rubber gloves.
She tells you, in her halting deaf woman way,
that her son is gay. She says, thank you. She says,
today she can maybe worry a little less and you hug her again.
For once you and Edith see each other, the way everyone needs
to be seen, all of us, you think, everywhere.
Chris Ritter is a Philadelphia native currently living and working in New Jersey. His work has appeared in several journals, most recently in Philadelphia Stories and The Avalon Literary Review.