Bicentennial Parade 1976 by Maude Larke.

the band comes closer
until the clapping ladies
in their gaudy flowered dresses
and the beer-bellied men
can feel the drum
striking in their throats

a beat that is now hardly felt
by the silent wraiths
making their own unseen procession
on the village green

the farmer is there,
who harnessed his ox
and milked each cow
with his own hands
on clean gray mornings
the hymn writer
playing the pump organ
at the meeting house
on Sundays
the buckskinned savage
who opened the secrets
of the new land
to new minds
and set his home
in any valley

the carpenter
who knew each work in his shop
and shaped it with his sure hands

the mother who made soap and butter
and raised her children
and read them the bible by the fire
the pastor
who shook the walls
and spoke thunder,
who was listened to
and believed

other shadows are also here.
a buffalo shakes his horns,
the flesh on his strong shoulders twitching,
watching calm-faced –
the mustang, mane flying,
writing its history in the dirt with its stamping hoof –

the eagle, who was taken from his home
and fastened by his back
to flags and emblems, and died there, starving

these spirits are now
shadows behind the shadows
on the village green
listening to the big brass bands
and the silence in the crowd’s memories
caused by the unawareness
in the rest of their minds.

they were once living words
nobility, simplicity,
charity, resourcefulness,
optimism, knowledge.
They weren’t invited
to this century.
They’re left
to watch the parade
from their view;
the view of
things forgotten,
left behind,
or ignored.

Maude Larke has come back to her own writing after years of ‘real’ work in the American, English and French university systems, analyzing others’ texts and films.  She has also returned to the classical music world as an ardent amateur, after fifteen years of piano and voice in her youth.  She has several short stories and poems, three novels, and two screenplays to offer so far.  Publications include Cyclamens and SwordsSketchbook and The Centrifugal Eye.

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