Gill Learner

Gill Learner’s poems have been published widely and she has been lucky in several competitions including the English Association’s Fellows’ Poetry Prize 2012 and the Buxton Prizes 2011 & 2012. She lives in Reading and enjoys reading to an audience.


If I press the plus to maximum, will you turn?
How is it in there – silent as the kernel
of a granite tor or murmurous like a river under ice?
Can you hear the blood thudding
in your arteries or the crepitus of tendons
as you move your head?
I miss our mute exchanges, your lips
pressed tight on laughter, my flutter
of a lid. We can’t dispute the way used to:
humour doesn’t travel on a shout.
You lean towards the chatter, see the bubbles rise.
How is it in there – like fingers in ears
to blot out playground taunts; neighbours
through the wall?
The hearing aid lies under handkerchiefs:
you can’t distinguish voices from the rest
and if your eyes are turned away
you cannot guess.
You used to say to Grandad
Are you listening to me, Pops,
or is your mind elsewhere?

Now you are listening all the time
but cannot hear.

Gill Learner

Poem published: The North, 49, Autumn 2012

collection, The Agister’s Experiment, Two Rivers Press, 2011;
Anthologies, Cracking On (2009) and A Twist of Malice (2008), Grey Hen Press;
My Mother Threw Knives, Second Light Publications, 2006

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