For vocal quartet, soprano solo, and piano
Duration: 12 minutes
Premiered by: Members of the USC Thornton choral arts department, Allie Tyler, solo
Paired with Michelle Brittan’s poetry, The Abandoned Hive uses text and music to create a world suspended in time, like a sustained memory. Brittan’s unique style of writing gives the listener a sense that this world is somewhere familiar, but simultaneously obscured and hazy. The three movements present musical material that supports the text, and a thematic element that bookends the piece and adds an element of continual cycling to the piece, its opening returning at the close and drawing the two ends of this poetic world together.
On Becoming a Statue
The house is no longer
a shelter. The air inside is the same
as the air outside. I have no use
for walls, only windows.
My breath turns
into moss, my eyes follow a leaf
pulling itself along the sidewalk.
Perhaps the wind will lead it
under the tire of a car.
Perhaps it will only absorb
the rain and the coming night.
I don’t believe
the leaf will settle below the arch
of my foot. I don’t believe
I’m a refuge to anyone.
I don’t notice the moment
the leaf is gone, because I’m trying
to remember the sun’s heat
I held in the stone
of my body. At night,
I’m the same color as the moon.
The Abandoned Hive
The bees are gone but the walls
in summer drip honey,
the abandoned hive
waking in heat. In a dream I hear
the drone, the plaster teeming,
and the oor beneath lifts into flight.
On Waking When You’re Already Dreaming
The slide of the bolt and lock, fingers
snapped at the end of a spell – your body
walking to the car under the inscrutable
graffiti of the stars – invisible garland
of your green bar of soap still
hanging aromatic in the dim hallway
outside the shower – the steam retreating
to the mirror’s oval border, my face
appearing after yours in the cleared
center – the tiny light
on the coffee pot burning at the back
of the kitchen, a pinhole in the night’s last
darkness – the pan you cooked eggs in,
the filigree of yellow along the edge
in a ring, lifted out whole like a crown.