Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2023  Vol. 21  No.3
an online journal of literature and the arts
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The Tuba

He saw glints of it moving
briskly through the dense
green wall of trees—
the golden form of the elaborate
letter B gigantic being
carried through the woods.

And so he followed it leaving
his hoe and the muddy
field of beans behind
and saw a man half-dressed—
a Shawnee walking with
his daughters on the path,

the shining in his arms a figure
for beauty and majesty
even silent carried
in his arms like a child too tired
to walk—a tuba he eventually
learned its name,

a tuba which he saw later in life
gleaming in the parades
of Springfield and then
in Washington constantly
the sudden shape of his own
imagination moving

through the woods in springtime.

Note: Since the tuba was not invented until 1845, more than likely Lincoln saw an ancestor of the modern tuba, perhaps a helicon or an ophicleide.

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