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Photo: Getty Images
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BooksFebruary 16, 2024

The Friday Poem: ‘Solo for Alto Saxophone’ by Loretta Riach

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

A new poem by artist and poet Loretta Riach.

Solo for Alto Saxophone

At the live music event in the old church
I watch the saxophone player
idly empty the golden bell
of saliva
right onto the blue-carpeted church floor.

I played the saxophone too,
scuffing my heels in the school hall
waiting for my turn to fail at sight-reading.
Spit on the floor– the boy next to me
on trombone, exerting himself,
a puddle forming on the
sports linoleum.

Nothing as awkward as a child holding a saxophone,
unsure of its potential,
bony angles at odds with a body that is
only curves. How to handle
something made for sensuality,
for serenades in smoking lounges,
something rich and coaxing,
with a reservoir of spit in its belly.

I knew when I put my lips to the mouthpiece
that there was something I could not grasp–
a wild horse
with gold-plated hooves and foaming mouth
rearing and flashing the whites of its eyes
at me in my uniform kilt and blouse.
The sound that emerged was not full or rich,
my lips splintered,
my tongue heavy.

Tomorrow is Sunday. A churchgoer
crossing the patch of carpet
might look down and notice
a small stain against the blue.


The Friday Poem is edited by Chris Tse. Submissions are currently closed.

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