The Silent Singer

The girls sang better than the boys, 
their voices reaching All the way to God, 
Sister Ann Zita insisted during those 
     practice sessions
when I was told to mouth do, re, mi,
     but to go no higher,
when I was told to stand in back 
    and form a perfect 0
        with my lips
although no word was ever to come out, 
the silent singer in that third-grade 
during the Christmas Pageant and Easter 
     Week, the birth and death 
        of Christ lip-synched
            but unsung	
while my relatives, friends and parents
     praised my baritone,
     how low my voice was,
Balancing those higher, more childlike tones,
     my father said,
Adding depth, my mother said,
Thank God they had my huskiness to bring all
     that tinniness to earth,
     my great-aunt whispered,
so I believed for many years in miracles
the words I'd never sung reaching their ears 
     in the perfect pitch, the perfect tone, 
while the others stuttered in their all-too-human
     voices to praise the Lord.

From The Silent Singer by Len Roberts. Copyright © 2000 by Len Roberts. Used with permission of the author and the University of Illinois Press. All rights reserved.