Toby won’t go in the auditorium
for the noonday concert
so Ellie takes Donnie and Melinda
while Toby and I wait in the hallway.
When you’re ready, I tell him,
as calmly as I can because I
really want to hear the Schubert concerto.
Toby sits cross-legged on the floor,
and we hear the piano softly
on the other side of the wall.
A group comes out a conference room
and five people settle on the benches around us.
They’ve all got name tags from schools around the country-
California, Maryland and Texas-
and I’m thinking this will be a good opportunity
for Toby to interact with people
who know how to talk to him.
But all five of them pull out iPhones
and bury themselves into blue screens,
completely ignoring us.
One uses a speakerphone right in front of us
and he’s not happy with the person on the other end.
Toby looks up at him like he’s got two heads
and keeps rocking.
I’m always thinking how our guys
need to be seen in the community
in order to be safe.
When people are kept behind closed doors
how do you really know how they’re treated?
But if no one looks around anyway,
what good does that do?