Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Only the Wind

Listen to the Mustn'ts, by Shel Silverstein

Listen to the Mustn'ts, child, listen to the Don'ts.
Listen to the Shouldn'ts, the Impossibles, the Won'ts.
Listen to the Never Haves, then listen close to me.
Anything can happen, child, Anything can be.

My Mater was working the other day at the checkout in the supermarket. It was a particularly bad-weather day and everybody was on edge for worse to come. Shortly before her shift was to end, the wind began to shriek through the roof. My mother could hear it high pitched and threatening. For a long while it continued and she went so far as to comment to her fellow workers that it was sure to be a stormy night.
Then she had to leave her post to fetch a box for a customer. Upon her return she espied a tiny child, no more than three, blowing away heartily and tonelessly on a brand new whistle while, according to my mother, "his father looked on lovingly." There was no wind after all, and how glad she was!
Along with the gladness came a slightly embittered memory of one Christmas many years ago. A bright and earnest child had been given a magical gift: one Major Morgan. He was about six inches high, plastic, blue and dressed like a soldier. His stomach was filled with buttons which one could press to depict a musical scale. Along with the box came some cards with different coloured circles. One of these would be inserted into the stomach and the notes would coordinate with the particular tune named on the card, for example, 'Mary Had a Little Lamb,' or 'Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.'
This child received the gift but sadly was not allowed to play it, or even to learn how, for that would require a good deal of mistaken notes. Major Morgan right away became a friend to the child, a trouble to the Mater and a musical nuisance to everybody else.
And then one day, not long after Christmas, Major Morgan vanished. The child looked everywhere but Major Morgan was simply gone and the child had thereafter to grow up without the blue musical companion.
We have no idea what talents might be hidden in small children: I wonder what I might have become had I been given half a chance with Major Morgan. My mother clearly feels the same way: two years ago she stunned me with a wrapped gift. Inside was a Major Morgan- no, not the very same, but identical- which she had located after much effort. I do not shock easily but my Spouse, who knew the surprise and was ready with a camera, photographed me with my hand over my mouth and scarcely able to breathe.
It brought back such lovely memories of a few days long ago, a short spell in which I had the potential to make art out of dreadful noise. We all have to learn somewhere, after all.
I hope that the supermarket father lets his child go on whistling and making as much noise as he likes; let him mimic the wind! Let him mimic the birds!
I am delighted to have my cherished toy back. Things, though, are never perfect: my Spouse forbids me to play it.

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