Jenny stood in the center
of the high school basement
as if she was a drum major
twirling a baton at the head
of a marching band.

Long hours of practice
paid dividends in that other kids
started showing up
and playing invisible instruments.

Once there was enough of them
to be a marching band
they read through Hardee’s Manual of Arms
because it was the only
precision marching instructions they could find.

On the rare occasions they practiced outside
any serendipitous observers
recognized they played marshal songs
and attributed them to John Philip Sousa.

After thirteen weeks of practice
Jenny filled out an application
to march in the Fourth of July parade
with the caveat the band
had to be near the front
away from the fire truck sirens
that always closed the parade.

Mistaking a Civil War sutler’s store website
for a marching band uniform business
Jenny ordered Zouave red pantaloons
and dark blue coats and red kepis with gold braid
in the style of the Fourteenth Brooklyn.

On the Fourth the band marched and played
with precision maneuvers by the rank and file
with a single hole in the formation
for the fife player whose parents insisted
she go with the family over to their cousin’s house
for barbecue and fireworks.

copyright © 2021 Kenneth P. Gurney

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