A. Lee Weaver
A. Lee Weaver

The Trumpet


Dancing was the brilliant light

that shone down from the house

those nights in golden ribbons

on the river’s ever-lapping surface

to the music of Papa and his band.

It was Papa on the organ,

strangers on the di gambas,

cousins on the kazoos.



The unicycle, the magic dust,

the big bell . . . ah, the big bell.

We kids would sound it

when we’d catch a barge

come creepin’ by.

Always they’d capture us

in their blinding beams

and send our forms

ten-feet tall on the garage wall.

Then with spotlight-spots bouncing

in our eyes, we’d throw

fireworks—sparklers, mostly—at them,

calling to one another in squeaks

and squeals:

Did you see that?

I almost hit it!

as our projectiles

splashed and fizzed a mere few

feet from the stony shore.


The real threat always came

when the sparklers were spent,

the strangers’ hands were numb,

and my mother held me close

and gently ran her fingers

through my blonde hair, cow-licked hair:

these were the moments of forever

when Papa played the trumpet,

played such warm sounds,

sounds never meant

to come from brass.



Gasping was the candlelight

that flickered in our somber eyes

in syncopation with our feeble hearts.

But it had no choice, the light,

for our hearts had

flitting downbeats.

And an unfamiliar woman

sat behind an unfamiliar organ

playing an unfamiliar tune;

the beautiful women were veiled

and swayed, but not in dance;

my pals, the strangers, drummed

only on their dark, creased slacks;

my cousin’s kazoos were stowed away,

hidden in their mother’s purses;

and the trumpet never sounded.