squirmKyrie’s thin frame floats inside his oversized blue jeans the way a butterfly might hover above a canvas sack. He has no connection to the ground. Long rows of black hair waft over his head, possessed by an electricity that he cannot constrain.

And who would want to hold him back?

He wants to be a good boy. He has said so outloud. He has repeated these words to his mother each morning because she makes him. To be good, he holds back his left arm with his right and twists his right leg over his left. He brings his body down. He makes himself sit. He wants to listen. He wants to learn.

Yes mama. I am a good boy!

Ms. Clarkson has gathered her students in a ring of twenty. She brings them outside because she believes in the prayer of open air. And there, her students sit in a circle, a council of queens and kings to be. They talk of heroes and cowards, lions and snakes. We are also animals, she tells them. Never forget.

She raises her index finger. Hush my boy. Hush.

Still he squirms. Sitting and restraining is unnatural. He aches from it. I stand some yards away so that I can watch Ms. Clarkson teach as if to chant. She is an elder. She is wise. Her guidance is perpetual. She lifts her chin and he pauses for a moment.

I can see her raise an eyebrow. I can hear classmates Malia and Eyona sigh in profound declaration of their largess. I can surmise that all of them have found a way to understand this boy. They do not speak out against his squirming. They permit him without engaging him. Though the sinews of his body may twist a full alphabet, the other children receive him and he knows he has a place in this circle.

I feel no shade from any of them.

Patience, I discover, does not rise from virtue. It rises from recognition of belonging, of value, of purpose. Even in the things one can’t recognize right off, it still rises. If this boy can sit here at the feet of Ms. Clarkson, he must know that she is the one by whom his greatness may unfurl.

How fragile the chance!

He must see that she has permitted him to remain because she knows that, even in motion, she can reach him. They communicate! She wagers on his tomorrows in the timeless way of a true teacher. Her words, she tells herself, will attach themselves to the boy’s thoughts and deeds. She will cup his heart with both hands and shape him into a man that will matter.

To float above the blacktop when others slouch! Let him feel into unbridled energy and unfurling prospects. A pairing of the random with the intentional. He may never be that still child who sits and waits. He might instead be that one out front, the spark that lights the way – that brilliant flash of motion that urges us to get on with it, whatever it may be.


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