A Brief Essay About Disability You Won’t Read in the New York Times

My wife raises the blinds upstairs and the sound throws me back to childhood stays in the hospital. Just the swish of a thin cord running in a pulley gives me the shivers. I was four years old and I remember the milk and iodine odors of the corridors, the moire lines of emerald tiles. Above all I recall the imperial doctors on their rounds talking about me and my failing eyes in the third person.

I think of my disabled friends. How in the hell do they get through the day? For some the shivers may come with the sound of coins in a glass jar. For others the click of a closing door. We love the great composers because they save us from the tyranny of half repressed noises that stay in the subconscious like Poe’s telltale heart.

How in the hell do my disabled pals get through the day? On many days, too many, I scarcely make it. I do. I do. But chance noise can nearly slay me. My mother was a sinister drunk. Just the clink of ice in a tumbler can press darkness against my cheek. And the laughter of children down the street—nothing is more awful if you’ve lived a disabled childhood. The reports of daily life are often merciless.

The sonic unconscious is a Sargasso Sea. No wonder so many cripples play their radios all day.