The sun has returned: it's been months in the dark,

Months with her head wrapped in cloth,

With her face turned downwards, tilted away

Like the Earth itself, peering aside.

She feels the warmth now on her face

On her cheeks especially, tapping gently, freckles.

And she wonders what will happen soon.

Rain again – how quickly it comes and conquers.

Dimly, between the clouds, they emerge.

Red. Their sweatshirts are too – baggy, loose, frayed –

They seem like strange, new dolls,

Fresh in their shiny wrappings and surprised,

The frozen uncomfortable look on their faces

Reflecting in the bright stage lights.

She sits, swings her feet; a child, after all.

They lift their instruments and hammer out sounds,

Sometimes scratching the notes,

Sometimes letting forth a torrent of simplistic beauty.

They clap dutifully, somewhat bored and confused.

And the stuttering boy, with his long light hair

And the almost girlish complexion that makes them uncertain.

His awkward speech and on-the-spot translation

Makes him sound stupid or foreign but his accent is right;

He hits all the notes but keeps the trumpet low.

The boys in the front row grow rowdy

And the first flute grins at them, flicking an eyebrow

At the boy who's conducting one moment

And playing the drums intensely the next.

She peers at the flute player, at the tightly pulled hair,

At the silver in the young woman's hands.

The young woman looks at her too, at the cloth

Wrapped around her head but she seems unsurprised.

She remembers the first speech about where they're from:

Should she feel different? They're just kids.

As they clap and cheer, she wonders –

Are those other shouts really classmates shouting

"Super dumb" at the young musicians, far from home,

Tired, pale and different? Or are they all simply cheering,

Sincerely excited by the last bouncy piece,

Thankful to be out of class for one period more

And begging childishly for the encore?

She leaves the room quickly and sturdily,

The clarinetist and the flautist following her with dark eyes,

Peering, again, at the normalness of her walk.