Day of Silence

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.