“Such Music as This” by Jerry Kraft

Jerry Kraft


“These people didn’t do anything
to be like this,” said Bill, who looks
more like a truck-driver, or maybe
a short-order cook, than the old pro
who has cared for these people
for so many years. “They just got
shit on by God, so we help them.”

Kindness is a given to work here,
patience, gentleness, attention—
a certain world view that looks
deeper than others would, adapts,
accepts and performs whatever tasks
can satisfy fundamental needs. No
deep philosophy, except to do what
needs doing, and do it right, and
then do it again tomorrow.

Developmentally Disabled, a term
with little description for reasons
as diverse as their realities, as delicate
and incomprehensible. What does it mean,
infantile intelligence, to be pre-linguistic
and blind, and to interact with your world
by hitting your head with your fist, or making
shrill dolphin sounds, or just chewing
on a blanket, and rocking, or bouncing,
or shouting in a curse beyond words…

Arms around him, Bill sings “You Are My Sunshine”
in his rough, sweet voice, until violent movement
stops, and the boy stares into his vast darkness,
silent, motionless, listening to this slight melody
of what we are here to do for each other.

from Rattle #34, Winter 2010

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