My source for today is a powerful poem from Malicai Frost, Dysphonia.

For over half of the fifteen-minute drive from the school to her mother’s house, The Bird had regretted accepting (or having to accept, her only other choice being to walk) the offer of a ride from Mr. Jacobs.  She only relaxed when the volunteer coach of the Bark Bay High School fencing team, his bearded face illuminated by the dashboard lights of the sedan, asked if she ever wondered why they practiced in the cafeteria.

The Bird admitted to wondering why the team didn’t use either of the school’s two basketball courts. Mr. Jacobs (they called him Coach Dan during practice) darted his head towards her — “So why didn’t you ask?” The Bird said she didn’t know.

“Curiosity, my friend.” His smiling face now focused on the road in front of him, yet she still felt his attention on her. “It is the spark of our imagination, it fuels our ambition. Never suppress your curiosity.” He then provided a lengthy explanation for why the fencing team practiced in the cafeteria; she listened patiently, not really processing his words, until he finished speaking.

She then asked if her being at practice bothered him. She rarely saw Mr. Jacobs surprised, had never seen him look defensive; she did not enjoy the pale look that fell over him.

He licked his lips, eyes seeming to focus more intently on the road in front of him. “I’m — if I’ve ever said, or anybody on the team has said — ”

The Bird cut him off, quickly explaining that her question had nothing to do with any of that. It was what she did, she explained, or rather what she didn’t do at practice. Always at the end of the line during footwork drills. Excusing herself from most blade lessons. Rarely participating in practice bouts.

to be continued


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