Poem About White Noise


My red-haired nurse carries a white box

which trails an electrical cord. “I have to

ask your opinion,” she says. “Which one

of these settings do you like? Patients are

complaining about the crying kids next

door in Peds.” I don’t like any of them.

Not the white one, not the ocean. My brain

understands that one sound drowns out

another, but my body doesn’t. I feel my gut

twist when the decibels go up. The loudness

is a hissed monotone. I go into the echoing

room where the new machine is installed.

I feel off balance but I adjust, as I do when

I hear a child crying. I mention the new sound

to the patients. One of them thinks it’s

a ventilation fan, another doesn’t hear anything

at all. I notice the constant exhale. I take a long

breath in. I’m surprised that people need

to drown out the symphony of children. I follow

the quality, tone, cadence, and pitch of the wailing.

Why don’t others immerse themselves in these

waves, in their fascinating amplitude

and frequency? My eardrums vibrate with

the songs of the betrayed. The crying has

benefit. The children are soothed. The noise

won’t go on forever even when it’s ratcheting

up. It’ll come to a gasping, shuddering end.

Copyright © 1999 – 2024 Juked