My grandpa couldn’t hear me when I was a child. His eardrums were damaged in the trenches of WWII, and he was fitted for hearing aids by the time he was forty. But those whirring beige machines couldn’t help him with my little girl voice—too high-pitched. He read lips, of course, but I was shy and quiet and didn’t talk much anyway. So whenever I saw him we just smiled at each other and he’d pat my head before climbing into his gold Chevy pickup. See you in the funny papers, he’d call out, which always made me laugh. I think now of that little girl with her chin-length strawberry blonde hair, her t-shirt hanging down to her knees over denim shorts, her bare feet and freckled nose and the scar cutting through her left eyebrow, the peals of her laughter rising like bells through the air and silencing before they reach his ears, stopped maybe by the wave of his huge hand, tan from the sun and callused with work, fingernails flat and round as moons.
Janelle Cordero is an interdisciplinary artist and educator living in Spokane, WA. Her writing has been published in dozens of literary journals, including Harpur Palate, Autofocus and North Dakota Quarterly, while her paintings have been featured in venues throughout the Pacific Northwest. Janelle is the author of four books of poetry: Impossible Years (V.A. Press, 2022), Many Types of Wildflowers (V.A. Press, 2020), Woke to Birds (V.A. Press, 2019) and Two Cups of Tomatoes (P.W.P. Press, 2015). Stay connected with Janelle's work at www.janellecordero.com and follow her on Instagram @janelle_v_cordero.