31 March 2019
I remember the first time I saw this picture, I didn't know who its subjects were. Already the image really struck me: the great difference in the age of the two subjects, the strong energy between the two, the suggestion of an intimacy and a distance at the same time, as though they didn't know each other well, but were somehow connected. Then I saw the caption, and I finally recognized Duke as the young girl, and the thing sort of exploded in my mind because I hadn't known that Keller was still alive when The Miracle Worker first appeared on stage. They are not just holding hands, if my memory serves, this image also captures, without being able to truly show it, a moment of silent, private connection, despite its being recorded on film, as they communicate--through a method invented by Annie Sullivan that only a very few people on the planet know how to use--a word that held the most powerful, foundational place in Keller's lexicon, in her very understanding and experience of the world, as Patty Duke finger-signs T-E-A-C-H-E-R into Helen Keller's hand.