ASL Tree

by Julie Rems-Smario

a deaf village
without ASL
is like a tree
without roots

long ago in america
reverend thomas gallaudet
met alice cogswell
a deaf child without language
a child alone in her family
her soul was hallow
like a seedling without water

the thirsty seedling
touched his heart
saddened his soul
a child without language
of her birthright
is a seedling without
mother earth

inspired by a deaf child
gallaudet searched for ways
for the seedling to thrive
to nurture her soul
he sailed miles away
across atlantic ocean
time was running out

gallaudet looked everywhere
places such as england
met other seedlings like alice
but found their roots
weak, not thriving
in their eyes were souls
crying for their mother earth

pained for the seedlings
determined to find answers
gallaudet continued his quest
with alice in his heart
there from city of paris
he met laurent clerc
a strong, vibrant deaf man

gallaudet was mesmerized
laurent's eyes reflected
a very warm soul
connected to mother earth
radiated with french sign language
he was a strong, beautiful tree
a deeply rooted tree

sunrays peeked through the clouds
touching laurent's moving hands
and his expressive scarred face
light of god's message
enveloped laurent
gallaudet saw the answer
for alice cogswell

the divine power gave
gallaudet and laurent
a shared vision
a vision of a deaf village
blossoming in america
with laurent's gift of language
pouring life into mother earth

together laurent and gallaudet
sailed to the land of america
to wake up the hallow souls
with language of their birthright
nourishing their thirsty mind
many deaf children like alice
will soon find mother earth

alice stood by the door
hiding behind her father
saw Laurent for first time
he stepped into her home
kneeled to meet her eyes
their eyes locked
she was bewildered

laurent's two fingers
placed on his scarred cheek
signed his name Laurent
alice's eyes lightened
she lifted her hands
signed laurent's name
a beautiful friendship

the seedling found her root
planted in mother earth
absorbing new words daily
her roots grew deeper
her chin lifted higher
the budding roots thrived
American Sign Language, ASL, was born

word about laurent and alice
spread like wild fire
american school for the deaf opened
deaf children traveled from afar
gathered around laurent
in hartford, connecticut
a deaf village was born

a miraculous moment
American Sign Language, ASL
watered thirsty seedlings
minds blossomed thousand folds
eyes gleamed with warm souls
seedlings' roots grew strong
embraced by mother earth

deaf children grew up
enriched with stories to share
in American Sign Language, ASL
became teachers, editors, and more
married and raised children
founded more deaf schools
new deaf villages mushroomed

tree grew stronger
roots thrived deeply
thick branches reaching out
everywhere deaf villages found
virginia ohio oregon and more
alice died too young
but not without her roots

a deaf village
without ASL
is like a tree
without roots