by 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.