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Wake was composed as a collaboration with flutist and poet Wayla Chambo, who both premiered the work and wrote the poem that inspired it. The opening line, brought Japanese woodprints to mind, so I sought to bring that aesthetic world to life in the piece. The pitch material is derived from the repertoire of the Shakuhachi, a traditional Japanese flute, but intensified through fragmentation and development to reflect the ardent character of the poem.

Wake

There is a river swollen with new life
and fog lifting like breath across the mountain.
Still, brown, but the green time’s coming soon
and I can feel it, everything is gathering
its strength for one long spring into the sunlight.
Resurrection is a deep, glad song:
no doctrine, but a stirring in the body.
High above, grey shivers into blue,
tall branches toss and flutter, golden-frindged,
geese rising up clamoring and then we’re off
a warm, wet wind, a laughing ululating,
keening dash into a sudden stillness
in each other’s arms. I smell myself
all tangled in her hair with this wild morning.

We don’t talk about love, but her body feels like home.
I know this place. And this is holy water,
this, the long curve of her thigh, strong belly,
hair a spicy curtain, neck becoming
shoulder, collarbone and breast with no
hard lines. Her skin as soft as mine.
I drink, a thirst too deep for caution rising,
thirst that calls me back to what I need,
the sweet ache through the wildest part of me.
Drink and be whole, as if it were all this:
the morning pouring between us, we’re transparent,
I breath her in, I will not ask, pretend
her touch is light enough to leave no mark
not falling, flying through this burning dark.

- Wayla Chambo