Patrick Milian and Eads’ third collaboration, a song cycle for soprano and mezzo-soprano, (contained in an audio format and book format released in September 2023 by Entre Rios Books) is published with North Star Publishing and available as sheet music for distribution and purchase.
“Arresting poetry and truly beautiful music . . . in ‘A Prime Number of Lines’ for the Boulanger sister, Bach-prelude-like beginnings go on strange and enchanting voyages, and creativity burns in percussive dissonances and shifting meters. The second song for Raïssa Boulanger is a wide-ranging dirge of immense power.”
A Prime Number of Lines
for Lili and Nadia Boulanger
I’ve never been careful. In fact, you could bury me
in only the earth and fireweed mucked on my hems.
Fireweed is the first precise shape the fire takes,
but all good beginnings need a little chaos to be expelled from.
The sound of the city is also the sound of the window
its keening presses through. City of glass. City whose fate is to break.
Our mother inherited a country that burned down
and was mailed in packets of ash to the opposite shore.
My body is an envelope marked armory.
My sister’s is mislabeled dovecote.
We burn up the world little by little with our breathing.
Survive by song, she said to me. It will keep you warm.
I wiped the knives clean on her dress
during one of our twenty-four winters.
Have you ever loved beyond your own body
until you became the echo of a rose window shattering?
Give me transparency, the untouchably green air
of a Spring morning that believes itself, the grace of it.
The first song I ever loved was a siren
ringing through the window. I imitated the alarm on the piano.
It was a promise to make panic elaborate, to make music mean
a burning building. She runs through it.
How could she?
How dare she?
In Spring the city unhooks itself at the throat
like a cape. We’re a needle
sharpened at both ends, pushing through to the other side
of both sides. We’re an oracle with two glass eyes
—one crystal, one obsidian—
so it all strikes the mind directly, asymmetrically.
The song was never the song but the sound
of a stern smashing against the edge of our queendom.
If I’m the garden, she’s the flaming sword guarding it.
If I’m the steel, she’s the satin I stitch together.
If I’m going to see the end of our fathers’ war, it will not be
to see the start of another. The world to come keens to be known.
Love is a terribly asymmetrical thing, briefly simultaneous.
A Prime Number of Lines
for Raïssa Boulanger
When this bright pain ends, you will still be starving.
Child, in this century the trouble sticks to you like blood in the stitching.
You must come apart.
Between the slow blue of the glacier and the avalanche’s dispersing white,
I chose to descend like the landslide and wipe away my home as I left it.
Still, my portrait hangs in some hallway.
Still, some doors shiver on their hinges to be unlocked.
If you listen closely you can make it out: the invitation.
It travels across the water, not in ships but in the explosion’s senseless rumble.
Traps search for animals to slip them but rarely find the craftiness they look for.
Have you got such a cunning streak in you?