Susana H. Case


Boy crazy, the doctor tsked—
the phrase
lodged in my mother’s throat,

as she made sure she heard,
repeating it correctly.
She was easily fooled

by the right diplomas.
He prescribed black and aqua
pills. I lost time in there;

days ballooned away from me.
Life is a candy stand
with a thirty-year lease,

if you’re a pretty girl in America.
He broke the lease.
Maybe he said bats in the belfry

and we heard him wrong.
One diagnosis was as good
as the other.

My mother lost
most of her hearing
and, ashamed, tried to hide it.

Instead of deaf, people thought
she was crazy.
Why not her daughter too?

Answers didn’t match
questions, her sentences
were strings of beads, looped

over the heads of those
who mocked her. Meanwhile,
I was too drowsy to notice.

Susana H. Case is the author of seven books of poetry, most recently Dead Shark on the N Train, from Broadstone Books, 2020, which won a Pinnacle Book Award for Best Poetry Book. She is also the author of five chapbooks. Her first collection, The Scottish Café, from Slapering Hol Press, was re-released in a dual-language English-Polish version, Kawiarnia Szkocka by Opole University Press and she has also been translated into Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese. Case is a Professor and Program Coordinator at the New York Institute of Technology in New York City and can be reached at www.susanahcase.com.