Music streaming through the hospital walls as colorful as the blue elephants and orange tigers painted on the peeling doorposts of the children’s ward. High pitched giggles that gurgle like a bubbling stream, spreading over smoothed pebbles and slimy moss, sliding into hearts and between souls.
Violin ringing with an out of key ukulele always a half-step behind. Guitar’s reliable current pushes and pulls. The A-string not quite in tune, a chord missed, a harmony lost, but the song goes on.
Music as the sole language because he doesn’t speak Hebrew and I don’t speak Arabic and she doesn’t know English.
So we play and converse, listen to E argue with D, G becomes the peacemaker, hear the beat as it backs off and slows down, watch fingers move with a life of their own, to their own song in their head.
A baby with burns covering his body, skin that looks torn from a thousand thorns, ripped like a discarded piece of red paper, flaking, disintegrating.
Tightly stretched fresh scars across a face bunched up in pain like a fist of one filled with agitation. Eyes slits in a sea of red, round islands of innocent brown.
“Play something upbeat” — and we do. Watch arms and legs flail out of time and see the tightness loosen, watch the red of the burn bloom into roses of childlike joy on the cheeks of a little boy who shouldn’t be here to begin with.
“Play another” — and watch the line between an anxious mother’s brow unfurrow. Smile to her clapping alone, encourage a smile in return.
Watch the music heal.
Red to rosy.
Stomach distended, eyes wide as whole notes, shining brighter, turning wider with each melody and every harmony, then, shaking hands like the force of two opposing magnets pushing, pushing together to express delight. Child smaller than my instrument, frail hands take hold of my healthy heart.
Nurses perk up in excitement. “Eizeh kef she-batem,” “What fun it is that you have come.” And the blue elephants, now bluer, come alive to the peals of laughter and sighs of relief.
An hour of the world with less pain.