He rose from his seat at the end of the first-grade lunch table with peanut butter
smeared on his cheek from a habitual left hand swipe and said “Watch Mommy.”
The kids didn’t notice, he was so quiet. I worried he was going to get into trouble.
He whispered something in the cafeteria helper’s ear.
She ushered him to an old piano that hid right there in the open. She pulled out the bench.
He sat down and silently straightened himself as tall as a six year old possibly could.
His tiny spine a solid wall ready to deflect jeers I thought would come. I hugged my purse, fought an urge to sweep him up and out the double-doors to the right of the keyboard’s edge.
He looked straight ahead at the up-right’s face, baby-fatted fingers poised above the keys,
commanded a definitive version “Betoben” from the lumbering cornered beast,
demanding the hammers strike the strings to sing his commanded song.
Kids stood on the benches to see. The librarian and gym teachers walked toward his side.
I sat squeezing my purse tighter and tighter, looking down, then up,
then down again. Such silence when he stopped.
There was a forever breath-held nanosecond
then Annabelle yelled, “XANDER’S A ROCK STAR.”
They clapped, swarmed, shook his bony shoulders,
got in line behind him to try to play,
He pressed his tongue to the side of his cheek,
trying to mask his pleasure.
I brushed crusts from his forgotten sandwich into my palm.
Tears fell straight to my hands, changing his discarded crumbs to wet dough.