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The Crane-Child

Legends >> The Crane-Child

…a boy, called Michel… was born to a disoriented, possibly retarded teenager... Until he was about two years old, he lived with his mother in a tenement next to a construction site...
The neighbors were alarmed at how Michel screamed, but when they went to knock at the door to ask her to quiet him, often she wasn’t there… Then one day, quite suddenly, the crying stopped. The child did not scream... For days there was hardly a sound. Police and social workers were called. They found the child lying on his cot by the window… Quietly he played… stopping every few seconds to look out the window. His play was unlike any they had ever seen... he would raise his arms, then jerk them to a halt; stand up on his scrawny legs, then fall; bend and rise. He made strange noises, a kind of screeching in his throat ... Then they looked out the window, where some cranes were in operation, lifting girders and beams… The child was watching the crane nearest the window. As it lifted, he lifted; as it bent, he bent; as its gears screeched, its motor whirred, the child screeched…, whirred ... They took him away... Years later, Michel was an adolescent, living in a special institution for the mentally handicapped. He moved like a crane, made the noises of a crane… he responded only to the pictures of cranes, played only with the toy cranes. Only cranes made him happy. He came to be known as the “crane-child"
...How wondrous, how grand those cranes must have seemed to Michel, compared to the small and clumsy creatures who surrounded him…
Extract from Leavitt, David. The Lost Language of Cranes (pp. 173-176). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition

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