The inside of my ear’s this half-deflated balloon that caught wind, lifted, floated, heard, and now sits half full, docile in a headlock of drainage. On some days there’s a ticking sound, a bathroom faucet left on, and I am lost running from the edges of my apartment, awoken from sleep, turning nobs and handles, anything to shut the thing off.
If this were a dream, I’d be trapped in the endlessness of a wind-blown sand dune. Pedestrian motorbikes left idling near vacant campsites – the threat of fire with nothing to burn. Chasing airborne beads of rock in loose linens, wandering over one hillside to the next, I’d be dead before I knew what I needed.
My grandfather’s only dream was to join the Air Force. Instead he was left farming, rubbing the loose cartilage in his ear as he navigated tractors over hardened ground. After long days he’d go to the local bar, bouncing facial expressions off white noise. If he were someone you found on a park bench, he’d warn you: I can’t hear. But what he wouldn’t say is what he wanted to see. Human ants and rooftop architecture, angelic river veins shaped like letters, the childlike drawings of major oceans, which on paper turn into breast bones or misinterpreted constellations.
Ear is defined by the English dictionary as “sound collecting.” Yet, the only thing my ear ever collected were the internal sounds of my body. A grandfather’s genetic debt. On certain days, like when the barometric pressure is just right or the humidity has risen, I can hear ocean from 1,152 miles away. Landlocked and listening to the Pacific touch volcanic rock. The deadness in my ear never defined my dreams. When people whisper to me there’s still a wetness to their breath and a rhythm in their words.
If I’d ever met my grandfather, lounging on a city park bench, I would interrupt him before he could speak, and on a yellow pad of paper, I’d write: hello.
LUCAS DEAN FISER is a former columnist for The Denver Post and editor at Lunch Ticket Magazine. He recently graduated with an MFA from Antioch University of Los Angeles and works as a creative writing teacher at Lighthouse Writers in Denver, CO. His work has appeared in Pif, Flash U.K., High Times, and other magazines.