Friday, November 12, 2010


Any response was positive.  A mumble would be downright spectacular, a symphony.  That's when we got him a harmonica.  At first, the sounds he made mimicked his previous vocalizations--flat, monotone--; soon, though, we found that he could mimic the radio stations coming in from chicago, and I'm not just talking about the old timers.  He'd sucked in and spit out enough delta blues to transform the ward, and we weren't sure how it had happened, but over time it became clear that the language he could hear came in scales and notes instead of sentences and words, and that his parents could be an amalgam of chorus calls both wide and deep.  The challenge remained to make the boy believe we were as excited about him as we were about the sounds that he could produce, and, I'll tell you, it would have been an easier job if it was the truth.  Gerald, my former co-worker, he just couldn't get over the sound, the tone he'd called it, and he pushed the young boy just about to midnight every night if I let him.  Everyone had to be reminded, though, that this was a boy who could barely speak.  That this, my friends, was an aberration from what we knew, not, as our dreams may signal, a confirmation of what we wanted.

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