A 2000 Mile Walk in Search of a Voice

By Sandra Rippetoe © 2019

There once was a large family that took a boat slow,
all the way to China . . . around the world, you know!
When they arrived, they just hummed. No “hi.” No “hello.”

The local people inquired, “Where are you from?
How long have you traveled? Why did you come?”
The travelers didn’t speak, but continued their hum.

The kind Chinese people brought them vegetables and rice.
The food was delicious. People were generous and nice.
The travelers were grateful. They weren’t even charged a price.

But the locals were confused. They could not understand
the meaning of their hums. They knew of no land
where people didn’t speak, or at least talk with their hands.

The travelers were welcomed. “You can stay here a while,”
said the people of China with the friendliest smiles.
“Our country is big though. You’ll walk many miles.”

So the visitors embarked on a journey so long
across the vast land while humming their song.
But wherever they went, people wondered, “What’s wrong?”

“We hear only hums. Why don’t they talk?
Why are they here? How long have they walked?”
Then one day the family spied a box of colored chalk.

All nine of them, each one, grabbed a piece with glee.
People brought them paper. They wanted to see
if maybe their drawings would serve as a key.

The visitors hummed. They happily drew
using all colors – – green, yellow, red, and blue.
A crowd began to gather. Someone brought tape and glue.

Their finished pictures were nonsense. What did they make?
But they pieced them together . . . like a puzzle, a mosaic . . .
it was a magnificent scene with many trees and a lake.

Their hums had grown softer, even a bit sad.
They had tears in their eyes, especially the youngest lad.
Clearly something had happened there. . . something quite bad.

The visitors grabbed their packs. It was time to walk again.
The mosaic was taped together by an onlooker with not even a grin.
She folded it carefully and placed it in a large empty tin.

She knew of a lake with a similar view
but they’d walk two thousand miles to see those green hues.
It would take several months, but her confidence grew

that this family would make it. They’d see this new place.
She wished she could be there to witness each face.
The beauty would overcome them with such awe and grace.

The visitors kept walking long day after day
whether the weather was good or the weather was gray.
Crowds followed for short distances, but not the whole way.

Then one cool autumn evening with the sun low in the sky
they arrived at a smooth crystal lake and each person began to cry.
They all fell to their knees. The onlookers wondered, “Why?”

The visitors stared and stared, and they stared some more.
They even stopped humming. The rain began to pour.
Still . . . they stared and didn’t move, until one began to roar.

One by one they joined in. The roaring was loud!
Their voices pierced the air. The sound even backed up the crowd.
Finally the rain stopped. The sun peered through a cloud.

At last the family spoke in words so very clear,
“Can we please stay here a while . . . at this lake? Or very near?
This is a place from our heart that we hold so very dear.”

Their wish was granted, but there was certainly doubt
as to why they came in the first place and how they knew the route –
to get to Lake Kanas. The local people never found out.

But they say on the rare day when grief cuts like a knife,
you can hear them humming to cope with the strife – –
an old precious tune about the gift of life.