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Mike Schneider: Spring Mills

              Memorial Day, 1943
At 17 my father had a silver cornet
& blue light stirred behind his eyes.
He stepped out behind the slide trombones,
march tempo, six abreast, six pair of spats
sparkling white on spit-shine Sunday shoes —
row on row of legs draped in royal blue
striped with gold, 120 steps a minute
to the rattle of the snare down Main Street.
       The music is proud Sousa & my father
swells with breath beneath brass buttons,
mouthpiece pressed to lips, triple-tonguing, 
double forte, bright notes bursting in the air
of crystalline afternoon, lilac-scented spring.
       In from the fields on holiday,
a corridor of eyes & smiles, scrubbed
faces framed in white collars, calloused
hands clapping as the band steps by —
These kids sound good, don’t they?
      His silver horn sings out legato
over Penn’s Creek where it curves
under the wobbly footbridge by the firehall.
Stars & stripes ripple from the pole.
An old willow leans over the water,
strand after strand of green tears.
A red-winged blackbird screeches, lifts
into the breeze, epaulets flashing scarlet
as it flaps across the creek to the ballfield
like a young man crossing the sea to war.

First published in Poet Lore (2003) and republished in Mike Schneider’s chapbook Rooster (2004).

Mike Schneider’s chapbook Elvis Night at Johnny’s came out in March, 2022. He lives in Pittsburgh.

Copyright 2003 Mike Schneider

Mike Schneider

6 comments on “Mike Schneider: Spring Mills

  1. loranneke
    May 30, 2022

    How moving — & what beautiful images. I love this poem. “An old willow leans over the water,// strand after strand of green tears.” — so, so very good!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Jim Newsome
    May 30, 2022

    My Dad and his brother played Spanish guitar duets in rural Georgia before they went to WW II. So your music memorial for your father is evocative for me of their similar types of juxtaposition. I felt strongly moved by your willow and its strand after strand of green tears, the redwing blackbird’s epaulets, the ballfield. Thanks for the poem. And for our parents.

    Liked by 2 people

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This entry was posted on May 30, 2022 by in Poetry, War and Peace and tagged , , , , , .

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