When we selected instruments
to play for school band,
I unwisely selected the drums.
A fourth-grade feminist breakthrough, sure,
but everything was too heavy for me,
the smallest girl in my grade.
The band teacher was too Whiplash-draconian,
and I had no concept of commitment
to any kind of extracurricular activity.
For the next three years,
the Fourth of July was a torment,
sweat pouring in rivulets down my back
underneath my uniform shirt
as I struggled to carry the tenor drum
strapped to my shoulders
down the parade route,
Broad Street in Griffith, Indiana,
lined with proud parents
and children hunting candy handouts.
We inched down the street,
behind floats and in front of fire engines,
the St. Mary/Our Lady of Grace School Band,
the drummers never getting a break
but playing cadences between songs,
which I can still tap out to this day.
But once the parade ended, I was free!
Free from the oppressive sun and the noise,
free from my teacher’s scrutiny,
free from the harness that bruised my shoulders and hips.