Mr Leadbeater’s Band

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My sister played fife in the Primary
Fife and Drum.
Te dum, te dum, dum.

Mr Leadbeater’s wooden leg marked time
as her breath
wore an anodised rivulet.

It smelt of iron and spit.
I loved the round silver O
of the first finger hole,
the dark bole of its insides,
the calm gradations of hole size,
the staunch cork in the end of it.

Not wise enough to touch
or add my heart’s moisture,
I watched her blistered lip,
her long eye, her bent head.

It let out a high, clear, celtic sound,
my sister’s fife
in Mr Leadbeater’s strict
Fife and Drum band.

17 October 1994

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