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Sign Language Studies

American Annals of the Deaf

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The Deaf Way II Anthology: A Literary Collection by Deaf and Hard of Hearing Writers

Tonya M. Stremlau, Editor


Christopher Jon Huer

She stuffed her guilt

into turkeys, and deep into the

branches of Christmas trees.

This was my mother,

frantic for the next holiday,

her entire life the preparation

for an occasion. Her fingers

were delicate in manipulation

of the crystal dove ornaments

that hung from silver


garlands on our doors and windows.

Her pies rose like angels

with trumpets; her tableware

and china were immaculate.

“See our home,” said her home.

Our living room was a cover

from McCall’s, a defiant testament

of love for her family that radiated

like a flaming Yule log. Paying tribute

was a toast, the undoing of a fine

silk ribbon around a card.


Blow out the candles, eat some

cake! This is my son, the poet-

philosopher! My son speaks “sign

language!” I’m trying to learn! Her

smiles were frosted on like white

icing, her hands whirring noisemakers.

Our conversations were hidden in

containers of New Years sweet

potatoes and hot muffins, dependent

upon holiday formality that


our true feelings would not carry through

a silence broken only by the usual

obligational laughter, around

roasted ducks and polished bottles

of homemade Thanksgiving wine.

Her words were invitations within

gold envelopes, formally reminding

me of dates for dinners that I would not

attend. The writing sounded like an

“I do” at a wedding, which was nothing

more, really, than a cue to weep.